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Nunes cleared of accusations that he disclosed secrets related to Russia investigation

by Adam Edelman /  / Updated 
Image: Devin Nunes
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.Susan Walsh / AP file

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Rep. Devin Nunes — who stepped aside as chair of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election amid an ethics probe into allegations that he disclosed classified information — was cleared late Thursday of any wrongdoing.

Nunes, a California Republican, could now opt to return to the Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.

In a statement, the House Ethics Committee said it had “sought the analysis of Representative Nunes's statements by classification experts in the intelligence community” and that they had determined that “the information that Representative Nunes disclosed was not classified.”

“The Committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed,” the panel said in its statement Thursday night.

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Nunes set off a political firestorm in March after holding a secret meeting with a source on White House grounds who Nunes claimed provided him with intelligence information suggesting President Donald Trump and his associates may have been "monitored" by U.S. intelligence during his transition.

The surprise announcement, along with Nunes’ refusal to reveal his source, led to questions from members on both sides of the aisle about whether Nunes had gotten the information from a White House source. The New York Times reported at the time that at least two White House officials were involved in helping Nunes obtain the intelligence documents. Nunes was also sharply criticized at the time for not informing ranking Democratic member Rep. Adam Schiff or other members of the committee that he was reviewing the documents before briefing Trump of his findings and speaking to reporters.

Nunes later backed down from the assertion, which Trump used as validation of his still-unsubstantiated allegation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower.

A month later, Nunes was accused of violating House rules by discussing the classified information.

Nunes, in his own statement Thursday night responding to the panel’s conclusion, reiterated that the allegations that had been made against him were “frivolous” and “rooted in politically motivated complaints filed against me by left-wing activist groups,” and took a jab at the length of the probe.

“I respect the ethics process, but I remain dismayed that it took an unbelievable eight months for the Committee to dismiss this matter,” he said. Nunes also called on the panel to release all transcripts related to his case.

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