Recording reveals Nunes saying Rosenstein impeachment would complicate Kavanaugh confirmation

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe MORE (R-Calif.) told supporters at a recent fundraiser that impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE would pose a political dilemma because it would delay the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to audio obtained by MSNBC.

Nunes, who has been among the most vocal critics of Rosenstein and the Department of Justice (DOJ), reasoned to supporters that the impeachment process was "a bit complicated" because the Senate would have to deal with much of the fallout. 

"Do you want them to drop everything and not confirm the Supreme Court justice, the new Supreme Court justice?" Nunes said in the recording, which was first obtained by MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" and aired Wednesday night.

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"The Senate would have to drop everything they're doing ... and start with impeachment on Rosenstein," he continued. "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 ... timing."

MSNBC obtained the recording from the progressive group Fuse Washington, which paid to attend a fundraiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersGOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker Conservatives blame McCarthy for Twitter getting before favorable committee MORE (R-Wash.) at which Nunes gave a speech.

“These are sensible ideas, I’m glad Chairman Nunes talked about them," Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, said in a statement to The Hill. Nunes is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Nunes's explanation for the delay seems to differ from other conservative lawmakers, who backed off the impeachment proposal after meeting with party leadership and after retiring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCorey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report GOP super PAC hits Randy Bryce with ad starring his brother Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE (R-Wis.) said he did not support the effort.

A group of conservative House lawmakers late last month introduced articles of impeachment against Rosenstein amid escalating tensions between the two sides.

The representatives have hounded Rosenstein for DOJ documents related to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation, as well as the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency MORE's use of a private email server. They also allege that Rosenstein has a conflict of interest in overseeing Mueller's investigation.

After backing off the prospect of impeachment, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGraham to renew call for second special counsel Hillicon Valley: Sanders finds perfect target in Amazon | Cyberattacks are new fear 17 years after 9/11 | Firm outs alleged British Airways hackers | Trump to target election interference with sanctions | Apple creating portal for police data requests Graham: Obama, not Trump, politicized DOJ and FBI MORE (R-N.C.) said he would instead pursue contempt charges if the DOJ does not turn over the documents.