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McMorris Rodgers office calls recorded conversation 'attempt at humorous joke'

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) sits on a couch as she prepares for responding to President Barack Obama tonight's State of the Union address January 28, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Republican Conference, was picked to deliver the response. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Eastern Washington responded to a Washington Post article on Wednesday night that said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, told fellow GOP leaders last year that he believed then-candidate Donald Trump was paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Post had reported Rep. McMorris Rodgers was among the Republicans involved in the conversation.

The Post said it listened to and verified a recording of a June 15, 2016 conversation in which McCarthy said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump."

"Swear to God," McCarthy reportedly added after lawmakers laughed at the comment.

Rohrabacher is in reference to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who reportedly has defended Putin and Russia.

RELATED: Transcript of the conversation among GOP leaders (first obtained by the Washington Post)

House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly stopped the conversation immediately and swore all the Republicans present to secrecy, saying “No leaks...This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

McMorris Rodgers’ spokesperson issued this statement in response to the article:

“Clearly this was an attempt at a humorous joke during a private meeting held nearly a year ago. The Congresswoman obviously does not believe President Trump nor Mr. Rohrabacher are paid by Russia. She supports the ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference with our election and supports the decision to appoint a special counsel to oversee the investigation.”

The article comes the same day a special counsel was appointed by the Department of Justice to investigate Russia's alleged interference in the presidential election and whether any members of the Trump campaign were involved.

The Associated Press and Travis Pittman at KING 5 contributed to this report.

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