Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing

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

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Biden campaign adds staff in three battleground states Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? 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 LankfordSenate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Tulsa to resume search for race massacre mass graves next week GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday 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.

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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.

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 CastroSteyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary Hispanic Caucus formally endorses George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Technical difficulties mar several remote House hearings MORE (D-Texas) tweeted. “Senator Burr should suspend his chairmanship pending investigation.”

Progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHispanic Democrats build capital with big primary wins OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 | Park Police did not record radio transmissions during June 1 sweep of White House protesters | Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears Biden-Sanders 'unity task force' rolls out platform recommendations 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 CarlsonDuckworth says Trump, Carlson questioning her patriotism to distract from president's 'failure to lead our nation' Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream DeVos 'very seriously' considering withholding funding from schools that don't reopen 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.