WASHINGTON – The FBI served a warrant to GOP Sen. Richard Burr as part of its investigation into his sale of stocks ahead of the market crash due to the coronavirus, according to reports.
The Los Angeles Times first reported that Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, had his cell phone seized on Wednesday night by federal agents at his Washington residence, citing an anonymous law enforcement official. NBC also reported that the senator was served an FBI warrant and that his phone was seized.
Burr’s office declined to comment on the matter when reached by USA TODAY Wednesday night.
The Justice Department launched an inquiry into four senators’ stock sales in March, a person familiar told USA TODAY at the time.
Sens. Burr, R-N.C.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; their spouses or advisers sold stocks around the time lawmakers received briefings about the severity of the coronavirus, financial disclosure forms showed.
At the time news reporting revealed the stock movements, the senators declined any wrongdoing. Burr called for an Ethics Committee review into his conduct as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle called on him to resign his seat.
“The law is clear that any American – including a senator – may participate in the stock market based on public information, as Sen. Burr did,” Burr’s attorney, Alice Fisher, said at the end of March. “When this issue arose, Sen. Burr immediately asked the Senate Ethics Committee to conduct a complete review, and he will cooperate with that review as well as any other appropriate inquiry. Sen. Burr welcomes a thorough review of the facts in this matter, which will establish that his actions were appropriate.”
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Burr and his wife sold up to $1.6 million in February, and said they did so based only on public news reports about the coronavirus
The 2012 Stock Act bars members of Congress from using insider information to make trading decisions. Burr was one of three senators who voted against the law.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Ledyard King