Sen. Richard Burr dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks earlier this year while he was receiving briefings about the virus due to his perch on the Senate’s health committee. | Al Drago/Pool via AP
The Justice Department has concluded its insider trading investigation into Sen. Richard Burr without pursuing criminal charges, the North Carolina Republican said in a statement late Tuesday.
Burr lost his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee last year when the Justice Department began investigating his stock trades, which were made as the senator was receiving closed-door briefings on coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic. He said the Justice Department informed him earlier Tuesday that the federal inquiry had concluded.
“The case is now closed,” Burr confirmed in a statement. “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 New York Times first reported that Burr would not be facing federal charges.
Burr dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks earlier this year while he was receiving briefings about the virus due to his perch on the Senate’s health committee. When the full extent of the economic devastation caused by the virus began to set in, the stock market plummeted. Last May, federal authorities served a warrant on Burr’s home in Washington and seized his cell phone. Burr had maintained that he never broke any laws.
The Justice Department’s move likely clears the way for Burr to assume the position as the top Republican on that same Senate committee — Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Burr last won re-election in 2016, and has said he will not seek re-election to his seat in 2022.
Burr wasn’t the only senator accused of insider trading. Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) came under similar scrutiny from the federal government, but those investigations were quickly dropped.
The scandals prompted a broader reckoning among senators over their ability to hold and trade stocks as members of Congress, given the highly sensitive information to which they routinely have access. The STOCK Act bars lawmakers and congressional aides from buying or selling stocks based on that type of information learned as part of their professional duties.