Last night, Rachel Maddow reported on leaked audio of Rep. Devin Nunes, who is perhaps President Trump’s staunchest bodyguard against accountability on Capitol Hill, in which he candidly revealed that Republicans hope to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after the elections. Nunes is already leading such an impeachment drive — which hasn’t generated much GOP support — but Nunes added that he expected many Republicans to back Rosenstein’s impeachment down the line.
In case the meaning of this isn’t clear enough, Nunes also candidly stated that maintaining the GOP majority in Congress is imperative — to protect Trump from the Russia investigation.
In so doing, the California Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee inadvertently made a very powerful case for a Democratic takeover of Congress. Nunes’s comments also point to a way that Democrats can make the midterms about Trump corruption, while also making the Russia story — and the handling of it by Trump and Congressional Republicans — an important strand in that argument.
Maddow obtained the audio from a representative of a progressive group who attended a fundraiser for GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state. The key quote comes when Nunes worries about a GOP loss in the midterms, given that Attorney General Jeff Sessions still remains recused from matters involving the Russia probe:
“If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones. Which is the real danger … we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”
This is a straight-up declaration that the imperiled GOP congressional majority is the last line of protection for Trump, given that his attorney general is not defending the president from the Russia investigation, and given that the investigation could, in fact, pose a threat to him.