Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., is under fire for selling over a million bucks in stock just before the market dropped amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Barr downplayed its threat to the economy, while at the same time offloading according to some almost 1.6 million dollars in stock after private briefings on the deadly virus, CBS News reports. Several of the stocks were in major corporations that own hotels.
Senate records show Burr and his wife sold a significant amount of stock last month, between $600,000 and $1.7 million in 33 separate transactions beginning in late January and mid-February, just as the stock market started to crash due to COVID-19.
ProPublica was the first to report that the North Carolina senator was dumping stock after acquiring information that the public doesn’t have about the status of the Wuhan, China coronavirus.
It’s illegal for members of Congress to trade stocks based on tea spilled from lawmakers in private, which is why there are now calls for Barr to resign. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of the loudest voices.
As Intel chairman, @SenatorBurr got private briefings about Coronavirus weeks ago.
Burr knew how bad it would be. He told the truth to his wealthy donors, while assuring the public that we were fine.
THEN he sold off $1.6 million in stock before the fall.
He needs to resign. https://t.co/IAITMbJ3R5
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 19, 2020
On Fox News Thursday, right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson slammed Burr following reports that he engaged insider trading.
“You may have seen the news reports this afternoon that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee sold more than a million dollars in stock in February, after learning how devastating the Chinese coronavirus could be,” said Carlson.
“He had inside information about what could happen to our country, which is now happening. But he didn’t warn the public. He didn’t give a primetime address. Didn’t go on television to sound the alarm. He didn’t even disavow an op-ed he had written just ten days before claiming that America was, quote, ‘better prepared than ever for coronavirus.’”
“He didn’t do any of those things,” he continued. “Instead, what did he do? He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money. And then he stayed silent. Now, maybe there’s an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”
Several other senators reportedly sold big stock stakes around the same time as Barr, according to Senate records.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler is also being called out on social media for reportedly selling between $1.2M and $3.1M worth of stock the day of a closed-door, all-Senator briefing on the coronavirus in January.
Republicans were not the only ones who took advantage of the privileged information.
California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein also sold her stock. Senate records show that throughout February, she sold $1.5 million to $6 million worth of shares.