The House Intelligence Committee will grant limited access to its files and personnel for an ethics probe into whether Speaker Jim Wright violated House rules by disclosing a purported CIA secret operation in Nicaragua.
In a closed-door meeting Tuesday, the Intelligence panel voted unanimously to give the ethics committee information needed to determine whether Wright, D-Texas, could have based his comments about the CIA covert action on classified intelligence briefings.Disclosing classified data given to the Intelligence Committee is a violation of House rules.
"The committee agreed to respond to the request and to make its members and staff available . . . in connection with any information transmitted," Intelligence Committee Chairman Louis Stokes, D-Ohio, said in a statement.
He termed the ethics committee's request for information "very preliminary" and added: "They haven't even started a real investigation yet."
The action appeared - at least for the moment - to satisfy Republicans bent on adding a new layer to the ethics probe already under way into unrelated charges against Wright of financial improprities.
The initial request by the ethics panel - formally known as the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct - was for a simple yes or no to the question of whether Wright had access to classified information relating to CIA covert activities in Nicaragua.