Remember that story about how Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader and now an arch-Trumper, told colleagues in June 2016 that he thought Donald Trump and Dana Rohrabacher were on Putin’s payroll? It got a lot of attention when Adam Entous, then with The Washington Post, published the article on May 17th, 2017, a week after James Comey was fired and the same day Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel. It triggered a momentary firestorm. But it got somewhat lost in all the other news of those critical weeks, in part because it was simply hard to know what to make of it. Was he joking as congressional press staff later claimed? Pretty clearly not. But more importantly, did McCarthy really have any basis for the claim? That was less clear.
Given all we know now, it’s worth revisiting not only the stunning quote but the context around it.