FBI agents seized a cellphone belonging to Sen. Richard Burr (NC) on Wednesday, as the investigation into questionable stock trades he made shortly after he attended a classified briefing on the novel coronavirus earlier this year enters a new phase, suggesting that Burr is under investigation by federal authorities and could be in serious legal jeopardy.
“Agents served a search warrant at Burr’s home in the Washington, D.C., area on Wednesday night, and he turned over the device, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the news.
“Burr, the powerful Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is under scrutiny after ProPublica reported in March that he dumped between $628,000 and $1.72 million worth of holdings in 33 transactions on Feb. 13. The stock trades came shortly after Congress began receiving regular intelligence briefings about the threat of the coronavirus, which has since infected more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. and caused economic havoc.”
Burr has denied he did anything improper and asked the Senate Ethics Committee — which is controlled by Republicans — to investigate the matter. But the FBI’s move on Wednesday signals that Burr is in much bigger trouble than whatever punishment might be meted out by his colleagues.
Former U.S Attorney Preet Bharara noted on Twitter that Burr should be very worried about how the case against him is escalating:
This is a very, very big deal. This is not something the FBI or DOJ does lightly. It requires layers of review, the blessing of a judge, and consideration of severe reputational harm to a sitting US Senator. https://t.co/PtETZtPPbz
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) May 14, 2020
Burr isn’t the only member of Congress who made questionable trades after the COVID-19 briefing:
“Several other lawmakers have come under scrutiny over the timing of their financial transactions. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), whose husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, also sold between $1,275,000 and $3,100,000 in stock in a series of transactions in mid-February.
“She had denied any wrongdoing and said after the trades that she and her husband would divest from all individual holdings.”
Apparently, Republicans are fine with profiting off the pain, suffering, and death of others, as long as they manage to line their own nests in the process.
UPDATE: Burr has reportedly stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to Politico’s Kyle Cheney:
BREAKING: BURR is stepping down as chairman of Senate Intel during investigation, per McConnell
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 14, 2020
Featured Image Via NBC News