Devin Nunes, the California congressman who has tried to deflect attention from investigations into Russian interference with last year's presidential election, has been formally cleared by the House Ethics Committee of a charge that he had disclosed classified information.
In a statement released Thursday evening, the committee said that it had consulted with officials in various intelligence agencies who determined that information Nunes had not divulged classified material when he publicly stated on March 22 that officials in the former Barack Obama administration had sought the names of former employees of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign in intercepted phone calls.
Nunes hailed the conclusion in a statement of his own for "completely clearing me today of the cloud that was created by this investigation." He added that while he appreciated the committee's efforts, he believed that they took an "unbelievable eight months" to examine the charges.
During the investigation, Nunes removed himself from daily operations of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian actions in 2016. He still remained deeply involved, however. He is among several Republican members of Congress who have sought information into the activities of a political opposition research firm called Fusion GPS which commissioned research into Trump's dealings with Russian citizens but also has done work for companies connected to the Russian government.
“I’m in charge. I was always in charge,” Nunes told Fox News after the Ethics Committee announcement.
No formal announcement has been made of when or if Nunes will return to operational control of the Russia investigations. During his absence, Texas Rep. Mike Conaway had overseen the committee's efforts.
Democrats have accused Nunes and other Republicans for showing greater interest in investigating former Obama officials, including Trump's vanquished opponent, Hillary Clinton.