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Leaked audio of Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaking at a Republican dinner fundraiser made public Thursday evening shows the congressman addressing why Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hasn't been impeached and saying that Republicans could be the only force stopping President Donald Trump from being impeached.
The audio, obtained exclusively by MSNBC, is of Nunes talking at a dinner event in Spokane, Washington, on July 30. He is asked by an audience member about the effort to impeach Rosenstein, which was only publicly supported by a small group of Republicans.
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Nunes, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, seems to explain the main reason Congress hasn't taken up the issue is due to timing and the upcoming midterm elections.
"It's a bit complicated," he told the audience member. "We only have so many months left."
"So if we actually vote to impeach, OK, what that does is that triggers the Senate then has to take it up," he said, explaining that it could take away from other priorities of Congress.
He said everything would have to be dropped if impeachment was up for a vote. "So it's not a matter that any of us like Rosenstein. It's a matter of, it's a matter of timing."
"Do you want them to drop everything and not confirm the Supreme Court justice, the new Supreme Court justice?" he added.
Later, he talks about the midterms and the sincere need to keep a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, something Democrats are hoping to clinch. Nunes details one big reason Republicans are needed: to protect Trump.
"If Sessions won't un-recuse and Mueller won't clear the president, we're the only ones, which is really the danger," he says on the recording. "That's why I keep, and thank you for saying it by the way, I mean we have to keep all these seats."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation, thus putting Rosenstein in charge.
Mueller's team and Trump's lawyers have been negotiating an interview for months. Investigators are reportedly hoping to ask the president questions about possible obstruction of justice when Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who at the time was leading the Russia investigation.