Two weeks before Senator Richard Burr warned a roomful of wealthy donors of the dire threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee sold off $1.7 million of his stock portfolio, ProPublica first reported.

A week before, Burr had written an op-ed assuring Americans that their government had everything under control: “The United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.” A week after, the stock market began its precipitous decline, having lost about a third of its value. 

Asked to comment on ProPublica’s story last night, Burr’s spokeswoman replied—quote—“Lol.”

Burr’s second pass at an explanation is that he “relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on February 13.” As head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, Burr was receiving daily briefings on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which, at the least, creates the appearance that his choices were guided by his insider knowledge—a criminal offense. 

Plenty of Democrats quickly demanded his resignation. Fox News personality Tucker Carlson did so, too. 

Responding to the outcry, Burr asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate him: “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,” he said in a statement.

Of course, the Senate Ethics Committee isn’t exactly known for kicking ass and taking names. In fact, it hasn’t done much of anything since 2012 besides slapping Senator Robert Menendez on the wrist following a mistrial in his federal corruption case. Last year, the committee received 138 reports of ethics violations and acted on precisely zero of them

Perhaps the Department of Justice might be better suited to give this one a look-see. 

In a tabloid-style hit piece today, NPR knowingly and irresponsibly misrepresented a speech I gave last month about the coronavirus threat.

Let me set the record straight. 1/

— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) March 19, 2020

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at 

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