The House Ethics Committee on Thursday cleared Rep. Devin Nunes of allegations that he disclosed classified information related to the House investigation of Russian meddling in last year’s election.
In a statement, the committee said experts it interviewed determined that the information the House Select Intelligence Committee chairman disclosed was not classified.
When the complaint was filed in April, the Tulare Republican said he would step away from leading the commitee’s investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. But Nunes did not recuse himself and many Democrats have complained he has been too involved in the investigation.
In a statement thanking the committee for clearing him of the allegations, Nunes did not address whether he would formally retake control of the investigation.
The ethics complaint was filed after Nunes disclosed at an unusual and hastily called news conference that an unidentified source had told him that “dozens” of intelligence reports included the names of Trump transition team members whom Nunes alleged were unfairly revealed in the reports. He said he immediately went to the White House to brief President Trump on the information.
Nunes came under intense criticism and subsequently admitted that he had received the information in the White House complex, explaining that it was the only safe place to examine the highly classified material.
Democrats on the intelligence committee, including ranking Democrat Adam Schiff of Burbank, said Nunes had compromised the Russia investigation and began calling on the congressman to recuse himself even before the ethics complaint was filed by two watchdog groups. Schiff did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said in a statement last spring that he supported Nunes’ decision to step aside from the Russia investigation, adding that Nunes’ leadership during the ethics investigation “would be a distraction.”
The allegations prompted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to put Nunes’ Central Valley district on its 2018 target list. His 2018 opponents have cited the complaint in their attacks on the congressman.
In his statement, Nunes thanked the ethics committee for “completely clearing me today of the cloud that was created by this investigation, and for determining that I committed no violation of anything—no violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or any other standards of conduct.”
Nunes also said he was dismayed that the investigation took an “unbelievable” eight months to complete, and that it was conducted by the full committee outside of its typical process, which includes a non-partisan staff review of complaints before they are taken up by the committee. Nunes also asked the committee to release transcripts related to its investigation.
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