Senate

Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges

The Justice Department has closed its months-long insider trading investigation involving Sen. Richard Burr (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.

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 Biden 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. 

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 Loeffler (R-Ga.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and James Inhofe (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 Rubio (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. 

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