Updated May 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

LA Times: FBI serves warrant on Richard Burr in stocks sell-off probe

 Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., reaches for hand sanitizer at a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May. 5
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr during a Senate hearing on May. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

FBI agents investigating Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) over his mass sell-off of stocks seized a phone belonging to the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman after serving a search warrant Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

Why it matters: Burr was hit with a federal lawsuit in late March over the sell-off that preceded a market crash caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He dumped between $582,029 and $1.56 million, ProPublica reported that month. Burr has strenuously denied any wrongdoing. His spokesperson declined to comment to Axios on the report.

  • The Department of Justice began an inquiry into Burr's stock transactions in late March in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • His brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth, dumped up to $280,000 in shares on the same day as the senator, according to documents published by ProPublica reported on Wednesday.

Flashback: Reuters reported on Feb. 27 that Burr had been receiving daily updates from the intelligence community about the outbreak in his role as Senate Intelligence Committee chairman.

  • NPR reported later that Burr told a private luncheon of constituents that day the coronavirus is "much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history."
  • He asked the Senate Ethics Committee in March to review his sell-off, saying did so because he "closely followed CNBC's daily health and science reporting out of its Asia bureaus at the time."
"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."
— Burr

Of note: In 2012, Burr was one of three senators to oppose a bill that would explicitly bar Congress members and their staff from using non-public information for personal benefit, including stock-trading.

Editor's note: This is article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper