“The Committee on Ethics shall investigate any unauthorized disclosure of intelligence or intelligence-related information,” reads the rule. The key to this rule is the phrase, “shall investigate”—a command, rather than a mere suggestion.
“The plain wording of the rule is that the ethics committee is required to conduct such an investigation,” said Brett Kappel, an attorney that specializes in political law.
The trigger could be as simple as a complaint from a single member of the House of Representatives.
“If another member of Congress were to raise a written complaint about the actions of chairman Nunes, specifically his decision to disclose to the public information that is classified… the ethics committee would be required to conduct an inquiry,” explained Bradley Moss, a lawyer that specializes classification issues. A third attorney who specializes in this area of law but didn’t want to quoted on this topic agreed with this interpretation.