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Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) dumped between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his stocks on Feb. 13, days after writing a Fox News op-ed that said the U.S. is "better prepared than ever before" to face public health threats like the coronavirus, according to ProPublica.

Why it matters: Reuters reported on Feb. 27 that as chairman of the secretive committee, Burr had been receiving daily updates from the intelligence community about the outbreak.

  • NPR reported earlier Thursday that Burr struck a much darker tone on Feb. 27, telling a private luncheon of constituents that the coronavirus is "much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history."
  • "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic," he added.
  • The stock market has dropped about 30% since Burr's sales.

Between the lines: Burr's sell-offs — which were executed between his op-ed and later warnings — included stocks in several companies that were set to be hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, according to ProPublica.

  • Up to $150,000 of his sold stocks were shares of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Up to $100,000 were shares of the hospitality chain Extended Stay America.
  • Tourism has been one of the hardest hit industries as travel has come to a virtual standstill as a result of the pandemic.

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

What they're saying:

“Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy.”
— A spokesperson told ProPublica

Burr's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Axios.

Go deeper

DOJ seizes 36 U.S. website domains for Iranian government disinformation

Iran's President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at Shahid Beheshti conference hall in Tehran on Monday. Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

American officials seized 36 news website domains linked to Iran's government for spreading disinformation as part of a propaganda campaign, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The action comes at a time of heightened tension between the two countries, with Iran's hardline President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday ruling out negotiating over missiles or meeting with President Biden as the two nations hold talks on returning Tehran to the 2015 nuclear deal.

NYT: Khashoggi's killers had paramilitary training in U.S.

A vigil for journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, following his killing in 2018 in Turkey. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Several Saudis who took part in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi had paramilitary training in the U.S. under a State Department contract a year before his 2018 death, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: While there's no evidence the department knew that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sanctioned Saudi officials to detain, kidnap and torture dissidents in 2017, the approval of such training underscores how "intensely intertwined" the U.S. has become with a nation known for human rights abuses, per the NYT.

U.S. attorney finalist trashes Labor secretary

Rachael Rollins and Marty Walsh. Photos: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Rollins); Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images (Walsh)

A finalist for U.S. attorney in Boston is publicly trashing the city's former mayor — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Why it matters: Rachael Rollins’ approach is perpetuating scrutiny of a troubled Cabinet secretary and fellow Democrat — and hints at the independence she may exhibit if tapped for top federal prosecutor for the eastern half of Massachusetts.