Probe clears Intelligence chair Nunes

Nunes and Mueller

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The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes had not disclosed classified information or violated House rules when he publicly discussed foreign surveillance reports earlier this year, formally ending its investigation of him.

The decision paves the way for Rep. Devin Nunes of California to again lead the intelligence panel's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

"The committee does not determine whether information is or is not classified", the panel's chair, Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of IN, and ranking Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, said IN a statement.

The ethics panel ruled that the information Nunes disclosed was not considered classified and would close the investigation into the allegations against the chairman.

"The Committee does not determine whether information is or is not classified", the statement 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. In a statement, the panel said intelligence experts had concluded the information Nunes disclosed was not classified, so it would take no further action and the matter was closed.

In a statement, Nunes thanked the committee for "completely clearing me today of the cloud that was created by this investigation" before going on the offensive.

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Ethics committee staff could not immediately be reached for comment.

The "left-wing" groups that Nunes was referring to include MoveOn.Org, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Democracy 21.

Bowing to pressure, however, he ceded control of the Intelligence Committee's investigation to Republican Reps.

The accusations against Nunes arose after President Donald Trump tweeted in March, without giving evidence, that former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, had wiretapped him as he competed for the presidency.

The decision will allow Nunes to retake his seat at the forefront the House Intelligence Committee's investigation, often seen as the best counterbalance to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's own Russian Federation investigation, which has come under increasing fire over its possible politicization.

Nunes has been at odds with Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, who are upset that he has continued to issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses despite saying that he had stepped aside from the probe.

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