Recording of Devin Nunes in private Cathy McMorris Rodgers fundraiser makes national headlines tied to Russia probe

August 9, 2018

A secret recording of a conversation during a Spokane fundraiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is making national headlines for comments Rep. Devin Nunes made about the federal attorney overseeing the probe into Russian ties in the 2016 election.

The event was closed to the press, and more than a hundred protesters gathered outside to criticize McMorris Rodgers for bringing Nunes, who’s stated publicly he’d like to impeach Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general in charge of the Russian probe. Nunes appeared to say at the meeting that it was important the GOP maintain its control in Congress after the November elections so that they can continue to check that investigation.

“I mean, we have to keep all these seats,” Nunes said in the recording, obtained by the progressive group Fuse Washington and first aired on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday night. “We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”

Nunes was the headliner at the $250-a-plate McMorris Rodgers’ campaign fundraiser.

Democratic lawmakers and pundits quickly condemned the remarks, saying they indicated Nunes was attempting to obstruct justice by suggesting Rosenstein’s investigation, headed by special counsel Robert Mueller, should be quashed.

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.

“I’ve said publicly Rosenstein deserves to be impeached,” Nunes said in the recording. “I don’t think you’re gonna get any argument from most of our colleagues. The question is the timing of it right before the election.”

McMorris Rodgers can be heard briefly interjecting into Nunes’ discussion of potential impeachment proceedings, but hasn’t said publicly that she would support removing Rosenstein. House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan threw water on the idea when it was introduced before the August recess in Congress by members of the right-leaning House Freedom Caucus, while McMorris Rodgers has said in statements that she supports the Russian investigation but wants to see it come swiftly to a close.

McMorris Rodgers’ office said they would address the Rosenstein question in a phone conversation Thursday morning. The congresswoman’s office is looking into who made the recording, which took place during a fundraiser at the downtown Spokane Club on July 30.

Fuse, an organizing group that has protested the policies of Trump as well as McMorris Rodgers said they paid the $250 to the campaign that was needed to get in the door of the event. The group also released a recording of comments the congresswoman made introducing Nunes to the crowd, in which she took swipes at her Democratic opponent for Eastern Washington’s seat in Congress, Lisa Brown, and praised Trump’s record on job creation.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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