Recording reveals Nunes saying Rosenstein impeachment would complicate Kavanaugh confirmation

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Tucker Carlson claims NSA leaked private emails to journalists MORE (R-Calif.) told supporters at a recent fundraiser that impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week 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 RodgersLatina lawmakers discuss efforts to increase representation CDC backtracks with new mask guidance CDC: Vaccinated people should now wear masks in high transmission areas 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 RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece 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 (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation, as well as the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote 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 MeadowsTrump takes two punches from GOP Watchdog urges Justice to probe Trump, Meadows for attempting to 'weaponize' DOJ Washington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 MORE (R-N.C.) said he would instead pursue contempt charges if the DOJ does not turn over the documents.