Insider Trading Investigations Into Three Senators Dropped — But Richard Burr’s Case Continues
Four U.S. Senators were facing investigations after allegations that they had used non-public information about the COVID-19 pandemic to guide investment decisions. Now, three of the cases have reportedly been closed. Only North Carolina’s Richard Burr has not been freed from suspicion.
In February, four legislators who had been briefed on the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic sold stocks in advance of market changes. In mid-May, the U.S. Justice Department opened investigations to determine if they had done so with inside information not available to the public. Senator Richard Burr, of North Carolina, hit the news first, with CNN reporting that the FBI had seized his cell phone on May 13, and was investigating his iCloud backup for information about the trades.
Similar investigations into Senators Dianne Feinstein, Jim Inhofe, and Kelly Loeffler followed closely. There was speculation that the investigations could be politically motivated. Richard Burr issued the subpoena that called Donald Trump Jr. to testify during Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. elections. USA Today reports that this was seen by those in the Trump camp as an attack on the president and his family. Trump and Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat representing California, have clashed throughout his presidency.
Now, the cases have been dropped against all but Burr, according to NBC News. Aside from any political agendas, Burr stands out from the other three in one important aspect: he admits he traded his stocks himself.
Inhofe released a statement early in the investigation, saying that a financial advisor handles his investments, and that in 2018, upon taking a position on the Senate Armed Services Committee, he asked to be moved out of stocks and into mutual funds to avoid even any appearance of impropriety.
The accusations against Feinstein were for purchased on her husband’s behalf. Both he and Senator Loeffler report that they have investors who make those decisions for them, and that they had no input on the timely sales.
Propublica reported back in March that Burr admitted he had a direct hand in selling his stocks, though he claimed he did so based solely on public information, not on anything he knew from private briefings. According to the Wall Street Journal, Burr sits on a legislative committee that received a briefing about the SARS-CoV-2 virus on January 24th, and the stock sales he made on February 13 saved the couple at least a quarter-million dollars in losses. His brother-in-law made stock sales around the same time.
As the investigation into Burr continues, he has released no new public statement regarding the closure of the other three cases.