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During private fundraiser, Devin Nunes admits collusion can be a crime.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Rachel Maddow Show has obtained and aired a secretly recorded audio of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes speaking to donors at a fundraiser on July 30. In the audio, Nunes makes some notable remarks about the ongoing Russia investigation. As NBC reports, “Nunes also appeared to say that if a campaign received and released stolen emails from a foreign government—he used a hypothetical example of McMorris Rodgers getting secret information from Portugal, where his ancestors are from—there would be a criminal element to that.” These comments go against the thrust of a frequent claim made by President Donald Trump that “collusion is not a crime.” As Nunes concedes, collusion could rise to the level of being a conspiracy with a foreign power, which is criminal.

Nunes also claimed the effort to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fizzled because of a lack of time, especially given the urgency of Senate Republicans pushing forward Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. “So if we actually vote to impeach, OK, what that does is that triggers the Senate then has to take it up,” Nunes said. “Well, and you have to decide what you want right now because the Senate only has so much time.” The congressman added: “Do you want them to drop everything and not confirm the Supreme Court justice, the new Supreme Court justice?”

At a crucial moment, Nunes reflected on the fact that Republican control of Congress was essential for defending Trump, saying “if Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones. Which is really the danger.”

He underscored the fact that “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.”