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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.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

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President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

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Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

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Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.