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Secret recording at McMorris Rodgers fundraiser, Nunes says Kavanaugh confirmation delaying Rosenstein impeachment

On Wednesday evening, a segment on the “The Rachel Maddow Show” highlighted statements made during a private campaign fundraising event for US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The event took place in Spokane on July 30th and featured remarks from California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes who is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Though the fundraising event was closed to media, “The Rachel Maddow Show” obtained secret recordings made by a representative of Fuse Washington, who purchased a ticket to the event. Excerpts from the recording shed new light on the attempt to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

On July 25, a group of conservative House members, led by House Freedom Caucus leaders Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), introduced a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. The articles of impeachment accuse Rosenstein of “high crime and misdemeanors” related to his oversight of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

In response to the articles of impeachment House Speaker Paul Ryan quickly stated that he does not support impeaching Rosenstein for a “number of reasons,” essentially shutting down the impeachment attempt.

“Do I support impeachment of Rod Rosenstein? No, I do not. I do not for a number of reasons…I don’t think we should be cavalier with this process or with this term,” said Ryan in a press conference. “I don’t think this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

But, in the audio obtained from the McMorris Rodgers fundraiser, Nunes says the stall in the impeachment effort is more about timing. Rather than being a fringe effort without House Republican leadership support, Nunes simply says the timing isn’t right. With only a few months left before the November elections, Nunes says the priority is to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, rather than use the Senate’s time to consider impeaching Rosenstein.

“You have to decide what you want right now because the Senate only has so much time. Do you want them to drop everything and not confirm the Supreme Court justice?”

“I don’t think you’re going to get any argument from most of our colleagues. The question is the timing of it right before the election,” said Nunes in the recording. “Senate would have to drop everything they’re doing and start to, and start with impeachment on Rosenstein. And then take the risk of not getting Kavanaugh confirmed. So it’s not a matter that any of us like Rosenstein. It’s a matter of, it’s a matter of timing.”

Nunes also remarked that keeping the Republican House majority is critical in this effort. He says,

“If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones. Which is really the danger… we have to keep all of these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”

McMorris Rodgers released the following statement in response to the audio recording:

“I’ve said repeatedly that I support the independent investigation into allegations about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. The special counsel should complete its work as soon as possible and be transparent to the American people,” said McMorris Rodgers. “It’s also critical that the American people are able to trust the Department of Justice, our nation’s top law enforcement agency. To that end, the DOJ and Rod Rosenstein need to make a better effort to turn over the documents that Congress has requested – I expect them to do so and fully comply with appropriate congressional oversight.”

“If they don’t, then Congress should follow regular order to determine if impeachment is the best path forward to restore the public’s trust in the nation’s top law enforcement agency.”

This article has been updated to include comment from Cathy McMorris Rodgers.