Ethics Committee clears Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes

(CNN) WASHINGTON - The House Ethics Committee has cleared House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes in its investigation into whether he disclosed classified information to the Trump White House, which could create an avenue for Nunes to return to the helm of the panel's Russia investigation.

The ethics panel announced Thursday that it was closing its investigation into Nunes after determining the information that the California Republican had disclosed was not classified.

"In the course of this investigation, the Committee sought the analysis of Representative Nunes's statements by classification experts in the intelligence community," the Ethics Committee said in a statement. "Based solely on the conclusion of these classification experts that the information that Representative Nunes disclosed was not classified, the Committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed."

Nunes on Thursday said the allegations against him were "obviously frivolous and were rooted in politically motivated complaints filed against [him] by left-wing activist groups."

In April, Nunes stepped aside from the head of the committee's probe into Russian election meddling amid questions about his decision to provide information to the White House about the unmasking of Trump officials at the tail end of the Obama administration.

Rep. Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican, took the lead on the Russia investigation alongside the committee's top Democrat, Adam Schiff of California.

But Nunes has kept a hand in the investigation, as he's continued to sign the committee's subpoenas as chairman, with Conaway's blessing.

His role has been a sore spot for Democrats on the committee, and the investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign has frequently been roiled by partisan tensions.

Read Nunes' full statement:

“On April 6, 2017, the Ethics Committee announced that it would investigate allegations that I made unauthorized disclosures of classified information. I’d like to thank 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.

“While I appreciate the Ethics Committee’s work, I need to reiterate that the allegations against me were obviously frivolous and were rooted in politically motivated complaints filed against me by left-wing activist groups. I respect the ethics process, but I remain dismayed that it took an  unbelievable eight months for the Committee to dismiss this matter.

“Furthermore, as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and as a Member of Congress, I am concerned about the unprecedented step the Ethics Committee took in both taking up allegations of unauthorized disclosures of classified information—a review that has historically been undertaken by non-partisan professional staff within the respective congressional committees—and how it ultimately reviewed this specific matter.

“I am also concerned by public statements made by four of the Ethics Committee’s five Democrats that appeared to prejudge this matter before they began investigating the complaint.

“I therefore call on the Ethics Committee to publicly release all its transcripts related to my case. The Committee can work with me and my staff to ensure that any necessary protocols regarding classified information be adopted prior to any such release. Both this House and the American people would undoubtedly benefit from such an act of transparency and accountability to bolster confidence that partisanship does not infect the Ethics Committee’s investigations.”


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