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Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges

Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges
© Greg Nash

The Justice Department has closed its months-long insider trading investigation involving Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrRick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Republicans, please save your party MORE (R-N.C.) without charges.

Burr said in a statement that the department informed him of the decision on Tuesday, saying, "The case is now closed."

"I’m glad to hear it. My focus has been and will continue to be working for the people of North Carolina during this difficult time for our nation," the senator added.

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A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed the decision, which was first reported by The New York Times, saying that the matter was now closed but declining to comment further.

News that the probe has closed without charges came on the last full day of the Trump administration, with President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants MORE set to take office on Wednesday.

The decision to close Burr's case comes after months of scrutiny about stock sales the GOP senator made during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. ProPublica reported in March that Burr offloaded between $582,029 and $1.56 million of stock on Feb. 13 in almost 30 different transactions, weeks before the stock market tumbled as the coronavirus spread.

Burr has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying that he didn't use any nonpublic information when making the decisions. He also requested a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the stock sales and pledged to cooperate with any investigations. 

The Justice Department quickly began investigating Burr's transactions, and the FBI seized his cellphone in May. 

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Burr was one of several senators whose stock sales were probed by the Trump administration. But the Justice Department closed its investigations into Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Kelly Loeffler's WNBA team sold after players' criticism MORE (R-Ga.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda Pro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget China has already infiltrated America's institutions MORE (D-Calif.) and James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE (R-Okla.) in May, while the probe into Burr continued.  

Amid the scrutiny, Burr stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He remained a member of the panel, but his decision to temporarily step aside sent shockwaves through the Senate. Because Republicans are set to lose control of the Senate majority on Wednesday, the decision by the Justice Department is too late for Burr to regain control of the panel. 

He'll now have to decide if he wants to be the vice chairman, a position that would otherwise be filled by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China DeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk MORE (R-Fla.), who took over as acting chairman for Burr. He could also be the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.