There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
Rohrabacher has more of what you might call a "good" relationship with Putin. They're old drinking buddies from the Reagan days. He could even be a good candidate to be an ambassador if he weren't such a loose cannon, himself.
I saw an interview by the guy that broke the story:
He said at first he asked McCarthy about the comments and McCarthy denied saying anything. Then he told him he had seen notes taken detailing the comments and McCarthy said he was there but the quote was made up. Then the reporter told him there was a tape, and then and only then did he come up with the "It was just a joke" story.