In a newly leaked audio recording, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, suggests that his party needs to retain control of the House of Representatives to protect President Donald Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller.

“If (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions won’t un-recuse and Mueller won’t clear the President, we’re the only ones, which is really the danger … we have to keep all these seats,” Nunes can be heard saying on a recording from a private fundraiser aired by MSNBC on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Wednesday. “We have to keep the majority.”

The remarks appear to be a blunt assessment from Nunes, a top Trump ally in Congress who Democrats accuse of trying to help the White House with the Russia probe, that Republicans must keep their House majority in the midterm elections to shield Trump from the special counsel investigation.

Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, downplayed the comments in a statement to CNN, saying “it’s unsurprising to see the left-wing media spin Chairman Nunes’ routine observations as some nefarious plot, since these same media outlets spent the last year and a half touting non-existent Russia collusion conspiracy.”

Maddow said on Wednesday that the audio, which MSNBC described as a “secret audio recording,” was obtained by a progressive group called Fuse Washington after one of its members paid to attend a private fundraiser held last week for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of House GOP leadership.