On Wednesday evening, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported an exclusive story on Devin Nunes, playing audio from a secret recording made at a GOP fund-raiser where Nunes spoke.
Maddow was gifted the audio by a progressive group called “Fuse Washington,” who sent someone to a fund-raiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wa., paying the $250 entry fee to attend and make the secret recording. The fund-raiser was closed to the press, and Maddow was thrilled to report something from an event where “reporters were not allowed in,” she said, slapping her desk for emphasis.
“These are not the kinds of things that Devin Nunes usually says in public,” Maddow explained, visibly excited.
Well, these have to be absolutely damning! What’d he say?
There are four main things:
1. Nunes believes Republicans need to keep their majority to protect President Trump from bogus obstruction of justice charges.
REP. NUNES (R-CA): “So therein lies, so it’s like your classic Catch-22 situation where we were at a – this puts us in such a tough spot. If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones. Which is really the danger. That’s why I keep, and thank you for saying it by the way, I mean 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.”
Shocker. A Republican congressman wants to defend a Republican president from an overreaching and unaccountable federal prosecutor (Mueller) who is attempting to prove said president obstructed justice (Trump didn’t) to cover up colluding with the Russians to win an election by using his constitutional authority to fire a subordinate (Comey). Now why might Nunes say that? Could it be because a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives would accuse Trump of colluding with the Russians and obstructing justice by firing James Comey to impeach the president (bingo)? Wouldn’t it make sense then for Nunes to ask Republican donors for money and votes to keep Republicans in control of the House and prevent this absurd thing Democrats want to do from happening?
Yes, it makes total sense. This is a completely benign quote. Moving on.
2. Sometimes Nunes cringes at President Trump’s tweets.
REP. NUNES (R-CA): “They know it’s ridiculous to go after the president for obstruction of justice. But if they tell a lie often enough and they put it out there and they say, ‘Oh, we’re looking at the tweets,’ cause you know you’ve got a mixed bag on the tweets, right? Like sometimes you love the president’s tweets, sometimes we cringe on the president’s tweets. But they’re trying to make a political, this is all political as to why that story ran in the New York Times on the tweets.”
Scandalous. Devin Nunes doesn’t approve of every single one of Trump’s tweets. He’s even cringed “sometimes.” My word! His credibility is completely shot. How can Republicans ever trust Nunes again when he admits privately he doesn’t like some of Trump’s tweets?
Easily, because most people cringe at Trump’s tweets occasionally. If anything, this revelation, if you could call it that, makes Nunes more relatable to most Americans and Trump supporters who think the president ought to be a bit more careful with his Twitter account.
Also, notice how people covering this Nunes tape are glossing over how he thinks it’s “ridiculous to go after the president for obstruction of justice.”
3. Nunes said a campaign acquiring stolen emails from a foreign government would be a crime.
REP. NUNES (R-CA): “Now if somebody thinks that my campaign or Cathy’s campaign is colluding with the Chinese, or you name the country, hey, could happen, it would be a very bad thing if Cathy was getting secrets from the Portuguese, let’s say, just because I’m Portuguese, my family was. So Cathy was getting secret information from the Portuguese. You know, may or may not be unusual. But ultimately let’s say the Portuguese came and brought her some stolen emails. And she decided to release those. Okay, now we have a problem, right? Because somebody stole the emails, gave ’em to Cathy, Cathy released ’em. Well, if that’s the case, then that’s criminal.”
Maddow was very excited that Nunes is “willing to concede that if anyone in the United States had anything to do with the release of emails and documents that were stolen during a campaign, that unequivocally would be a criminal act.”
But that’s not what he said. Applying Nunes’ hypothetical to the DNC narrative that Maddow wants to be true, Trump would commit a crime if he had received hacked DNC emails from the Russians and then released them. There is absolutely no evidence that Trump or his campaign worked with the Russians to hack the DNC and steal its emails. There is zero evidence that Trump or his campaign received those stolen emails. There is zero evidence that Trump or his campaign turned those emails over to WikiLeaks to release them to the public and damage the Clinton campaign.
Nunes is stating the obvious: Those actions would be a crime. Everyone already knows this. Nunes doesn’t defend Trump in public from the Mueller investigation because he’s pretending that it doesn’t matter if Trump had something to do with hacking the DNC. He defends Trump in public because there is no evidence Trump had anything to do with it.
4. Nunes explained that passing articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would delay a Senate vote on confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: “But also, on things that came up in the House on Rosenstein impeachment thing. And it appears from an outsider that the Republicans were not supported.”
REP. NUNES (R-CA): “Yeah, well, so it’s a bit complicated, right? And I say that because you have to, so we only have so many months left, right? So if we actually vote to impeach, okay, what that does is that triggers the Senate then has to take it up. Well, and you have to decide what you want right now because the Senate only has so much time. Do you want them to drop everything and not confirm the Supreme Court justice, the new Supreme Court justice? So that’s part of why, I don’t think you have, you’re not getting from, and I’ve said publicly Rosenstein deserves to be impeached. I mean, so, 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.”
REP. MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA): “Also, the Senate has to start –”
REP. NUNES (R-CA): “The Senate would have to start, the Senate would have to drop everything they’re doing and start to, and start with impeachment on Rosenstein. 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, it’s a matter of timing.”
Maddow played this up as a big deal because Nunes’ comments and McMorris Rodgers’ chimed-in agreement seem to signal that Republican leadership is supportive, in theory, of impeaching Rod Rosenstein at a more convenient time for the Senate. This would be surprising to the mainstream media because the narrative it pushed is that conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus were being ostracized in the GOP for introducing articles of impeachment against Rosenstein.
But that was never true. House Speaker Paul Ryan opposes impeachment, but he’s on his way out. The number three Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., has already pledged to vote for impeachment if it is brought up for a vote. So there was never uniform rejection of the Freedom Caucus’ move to impeach Rosenstein from GOP leadership. Further, it doesn’t matter anyway because Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., tabled his articles of impeachment, which were introduced to make the threat of impeachment real and encourage Rosenstein to cooperate with Congress.
But Maddow takes it into conspiracy theory territory. She suggests that Republicans are waiting to impeach Rosenstein until after the election and after Kavanaugh’s confirmation so that if ending the Mueller probe triggers a “constitutional crisis,” the “new Trump justice” will be on the court to rule in favor of the Trump administration.
She does not report on Rosenstein’s repeated actions to stonewall Congress and refusal to cooperate with its constitutional authority to conduct oversight. She does not consider how Rosenstein may deserve to be impeached. She does not raise legitimate questions about the constitutionality of the Mueller probe in the first place. And that makes sense because Maddow is a far-left partisan putting on a show for her far-left MSNBC audience.
But if you were looking for news from this secret “news” tape, you won’t find any. So congratulations to Rachel Maddow and to MSNBC. You obtained an exclusive nothingburger. Again.
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Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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