The House Ethics Committee on Thursday cleared the chairman of the House intelligence committee on a complaint that he may have leaked classified information, paving the way for Rep. Devin Nunes to again lead his panel's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
"Based exclusively 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", it said.
After learning of the investigation, Nunes announced he would step away from the House's investigation amid a firestorm of intense scrutiny and media coverage. "Based exclusively 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". His spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At a news conference after his trip, Nunes told reporters that he had discovered evidence to support the president's claim that he was wiretapped at Trump Tower.
"The committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed", panel chairwoman Susan Brooks (R., Ind.) and ranking member Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) wrote in a statement announcing the panel's decision.
"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", Nunes said. He called on the committee to release all non-classified information collected during its investigation, saying the public would benefit from its transparency.
He also challenged the committee's decision to take up the allegations against him in the first place, arguing that determining whether material was classified or not was normally the purview of committee staff, making the Ethics Committee's decision to weigh in on the matter "unprecedented".
Nunes had denied coordinating his disclosure of the information with the Trump administration.
Nunes said in a statement Thursday night he was angry the review sidelined him for eight months and said it was prompted by partisan criticism. The Tulare Republican is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is leading the investigation into Russia's alleged interference with the 2016 election. At a news conference in March after the trip to the White House, Nunes had said that communications involving Trump associates had been swept up by USA spy agencies and, he suggested, mishandled by the Obama administration.