Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

 Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

What he's saying: “Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year," Burr said in a statement.

  • "The case is now closed. 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 big picture: The Justice Department has now closed all four of its Senate insider trading probes it launched early on in the pandemic.

  • Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), along with former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), were also investigated but also did not face charges.

Context: Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein and Burr sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stocks following briefings in January that detailed the potential economic devastation of the coming pandemic.

  • Lawmakers are prohibited from insider trading via the 2012 "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act," which blocks members of Congress and their staff from managing investment portfolios based on nonpublic information.
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