Devin Nunes was secretly recorded telling supporters that the Republicans have to keep control of the House to protect President Trump in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, according to a report.
"So if we actually vote to impeach, OK, what that does is that triggers the Senate then has to take it up", he said on the recording.
It is clear that he intends to undermine the investigation because he lists keeping control of the House as an alternative to Attorney General Jeff Sessions - who is recused from the investigation and all related matters on the advice of ethics experts - taking control of the probe or to Mueller finding the president to be innocent.
The committee Nunes heads was tasked with investigating whether anyone from the Trump campaign may have collaborated with Russian attempts to influence the election, but its inquiry quickly became mired in partisan disputes. They've unearthed some of his crimes, they're looking for more crimes, but you have Devin Nunes bragging about trying to stop the investigation against Putin and Russia's interference in American democracy.
"If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away".
Nunes' office did not immediately return a request for comment today, but his spokesman Jack Langer told The Hill newspaper that "these are sensible ideas".More news: Malcolm Jenkins Resumes Protest By Raising Fist During National Anthem
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But it was in private, at a closed-door fundraiser for a Republican colleague, that Nunes took the new step of tying the investigation to the midterm elections this fall.
The danger, he said, was holding up the judicial nomination, as "the 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". But, for House Republicans, you see a real, I think, conflict between their role as balancing out the executive branch - they are in charge of a separate and equal branch of government - vs. supporting a president whose policy goals they think they can help.
Nunes also blamed timing, and the need for the Senate to confirm President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, before November as the reason things weren't moving more swiftly in Congress toward Rosenstein's removal.
An impeachment vote, Nunes said, would "tie the Senate into knots". "Well, if that's the case, then that's criminal".
"I've said publicly Rosenstein deserves to be impeached", Nunes said. He added, "so it's not a matter that any of us like Rosenstein". "I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or term".
This email will be delivered to your inbox once a day in the morning. "It's a matter of timing".