Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) speaking during a committee hearing in September 2021. Photo: Greg Nash- Pool/Getty Images

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Gerald Fauth, his brother-in-law, violated federal securities laws by abruptly selling financial holdings early on in the COVID pandemic, court filings made public last week show.

Why it matters: The Department of Justice under the Trump administration opened and later closed an insider trading probe into Burr and several other lawmakers from both parties. But the new filings show that the SEC never dropped its investigation into the North Carolina lawmaker.

By the numbers: Burr, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, sold between $582,029 and $1.56 million worth of stock on Feb. 13, 2020, in companies that would be hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, according to transaction reports obtained by ProPublica.

  • Around that time, he was receiving daily updates from the intelligence community about national security threats against the U.S., including the growing coronavirus outbreak.
  • On Feb. 13, Fauth, who was appointed by former President Trump to the National Mediation Board in 2017, also dumped between $97,000 and $280,000 worth of shares in companies that would later be rattled by the virus.
  • The stock market tanked in response to the pandemic about a week after Burr's and Fauth's sell-offs, the SEC said in the court filing.

The filings stem from a case in which the SEC is attempting to force Fauth to testify in its investigation into whether he and Burr used "material nonpublic information" to benefit financially.

  • The agency is in part focused on multiple phone calls between Burr and Fauth in February 2020, including one particular call on Feb. 13 — the same day Burr and Fauth sold large quantities of stock.
  • On that day, the SEC alleges that Fauth initiated stock sales in his wife's brokerage account immediately after speaking to Burr on the phone for 50 seconds.
  • Directly before that phone call, Burr liquidated $1.6 million worth of stock in his and his wife's individual retirement account.
  • The agency said in the filing that it first subpoenaed Fauth on May 26, 2020. Fauth's counsel has maintained that he is unable to give testimony because of undisclosed health concerns.
  • The SEC argued that Fauth's health should not prevent him from complying with its subpoena because he has continued to serve on the National Mediation Board despite his health concerns.

The big picture: After the Justice Department opened its investigation into Burr, he stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

What they're saying: Burr's office and lawyers for Fauth did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  • Burr has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Go deeper: Lawmakers push for changes to insider trading rules

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Dec 16, 2021 - Economy & Business

SEC goes on rule-making spree

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Federal securities regulators went on a rule-making spree Wednesday, including new proposals related to executive stock trading and corporate share buybacks.

Why it matters: This felt like a giant throat-clearing, as the SEC prepares to address issues like crypto and SPACs in 2022.

NASA estimates Tonga volcano exploded with force of 5-6 megatons

A satellite image of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Dec. 24, before the eruption. Photo: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

NASA scientists estimate the power of the Tonga volcanic eruption over the weekend to have been 5-6 Megatons of TNT equivalent.

Threat level: Saturday's eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano and subsequent tsunami killed at least three people. Scientists warn an "ash-seawater cocktail" poses a potentially toxic health threat, and drinking water could have contaminated.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and his two elder children to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."