Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing

Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrLoeffler traded .4M in stocks as Congress responded to coronavirus pandemic Before this pandemic ends, intel agencies should prepare for a world of threats DOJ probing stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of coronavirus crisis: report MORE (R-N.C.) is requesting that the Senate Ethics Committee launch an investigation into his stock trading history after reports that he sold off millions in personal stocks the week before the stock market began its steep dive amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement posted to his Twitter account Thursday, Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, denied using classified information to reach his decision to offload his stocks before the market plummeted. 

“I relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on February 13,” Burr said in a statement. “Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight however, I spoke this morning with the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked him to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency.”

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Shortly after Burr released his statement, the hashtag “#Burrisma” began to trend on Twitter.

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordFormer Sen. Tom Coburn dies at 72 Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing Senior GOP senators object to direct payments at caucus meeting MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The six members of the panel have yet to comment publicly on Burr’s call for an investigation.

According to financial disclosures, Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks within days of the Senate holding a briefing on Jan. 24 with administration officials on the coronavirus outbreak.

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Inhofe and Feinstein later said that they were not present at the briefing. Loeffler defended her actions, saying that her investment decisions are made by third-party advisers.

After the reports first circulated Thursday afternoon about Burr's stock transaction activity, several Democratic lawmakers called for an investigation into him — and even for his resignation.

“As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I know that our committee receives sensitive information, including assessments and projections, before others in Congress and the general public (if ever),” Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroTexas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order ICE under pressure to release detainees threatened by coronavirus Latinos projected to bear economic brunt of coronavirus MORE (D-Texas) tweeted. “Senator Burr should suspend his chairmanship pending investigation.”

Progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, said Friday that members of Congress should not be allowed to purchase individual stock.

On Thursday evening, conservative commentator Tucker CarlsonTucker Carlson74 journalism professors accuse Fox News of spreading coronavirus misinformation Wake up, America, it's profits over people to some Tucker Carlson: Biden won't be the Democratic nominee, Andrew Cuomo 'most likely' MORE also said Burr should resign if he can't explain his actions.

“Maybe there’s an honest explanation for what he did; if there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately,” Carlson said on Fox News. “Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”

—Updated at 11:42 a.m.