On Wednesday night, the FBI executed a search warrant at the home of North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of its investigation into suspiciously timed stock sales in February, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Agents seized Burr’s cell phone.
Days earlier, the Times reported, the feds served a warrant on Apple to search Burr’s iCloud account. The information gleaned from that search appears to have been used in the application for the search warrant on his home.
Securing a search warrant for the home of a senior United States senator—a member of the president’s party, no less—is no small affair. Prosecutors would have had to persuade a judge that Burr’s cell phone would provide evidence of criminal activity. Before that, the application would have had to be cleared by senior members of the Department of Justice.
FBI agents are reportedly seeking information about Burr’s communications with his broker.
At issue is whether Burr illegally relied on private information he obtained as a member of Congress—both on the intelligence committee and a health committee that received early briefings on the coronavirus—when he dumped up to $1.7 million in stocks on February 13, a week before fears over the coronavirus pandemic sent the stock market into a tailspin. Burr’s brother-in-law also sold a significant amount of stock that same day.
At the time, Burr was reassuring the American public that the federal government had everything under control, an assurance that has not aged particularly well.
Under the 2012 STOCK Act, members of Congress are allowed to own stocks, even those of the industries they regulate, but they cannot buy or sell based upon information they receive in private briefings.
Burr was one of only three senators who voted against the bill.
Burr has denied wrongdoing, saying he based his decisions on public information and did not coordinate with his brother-in-law.
He has not yet resigned.
Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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