Republican Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) was served a warrant by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to search the contents of his phone and cloud storage in an effort to determine whether or not Burr committed insider trading.
The scrutiny comes after Burr, the Senate Intelligence committee Chairman, sold 33 stocks worth between $628,033 and $1.72 million as the Senate Intel Committee received daily classified briefings on the virus. Many of the businesses whose shares he sold were in industries hardest hit by the pandemic.
Even as Burr assured Americans in an op-ed piece that the United States was more prepared than ever for the looming pandemic, Burr sold the bulk of his shares in February just before audio leaked of him warning donors that the impact of the virus would be severe.
Burr insists that he's relied only on public news reports to determine the selling of his stock and a spokesperson for Burr has declined to comment on the warrant for his phone.
People applauded the escalation in pursuit of Burr's accountability.
Oh this news is a happy start to my day! Who's next... https://t.co/vfbP3hsRi8— Linda Morgan Davis (@Linda Morgan Davis)1589465713.0
And BOOM goes the dynamite 💥 https://t.co/0nmMLlMejU— Dracula's Spatula (@Dracula's Spatula)1589462718.0
Took them long enough https://t.co/8Wl4yEJSJe— Patrick Osborne (@Patrick Osborne)1589427030.0
But here's the thing: Burr isn't the only Senator who suspiciously sold stocks.
His Republican colleague, Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, also sold millions of dollars worth of stocks after she received classified briefings on the virus. Loeffler even invested in telework companies after the briefings—an industry that would boom as more and more Americans were required to work from home.
Oddly enough, Loeffler hasn't yet faced the same scrutiny from the FBI as Burr now has. People have an idea as to why.
Like many Republican lawmakers, Loeffler is unwaveringly loyal to President Donald Trump. Though Burr votes along ideological lines with Trump around 90 percent of the time, Burr's actions in the Senate Intelligence Committee have been a thorn in Trump's side.
It was Burr, as Intel Committee chairman, who signed off on the subpoena of Donald Trump Jr. regarding his enthusiastic response to emails from Russian government officials claiming to have information on Hillary Clinton.
The committee's investigation would culminate in yet another report confirming that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, and solidify Burr's sullied reputation among Republicans for not defending the leader.
Some are beginning to wonder if that's why the FBI is publicly going after Burr, but not after Loeffler...yet.
Watch closely. If the FBI investigates Richard Burr for illegal sale of stock and doesn’t investigate Kelly Loeffle… https://t.co/uFJyVyXfp1— Jeff Strabone (@Jeff Strabone)1589425214.0
I’m not saying they shouldn’t have gone after Sen. Burr, but what about Sen. Loeffler? Or is the DOJ only going aft… https://t.co/bQiD8VLDlT— Steven Beschloss (@Steven Beschloss)1589430356.0
A lot more is needed to develop the record, but I do think this is a moment to be seriously on guard for DOJ being… https://t.co/l7FQiHFGHK— Susan Hennessey (@Susan Hennessey)1589425556.0
It’s weird that Burr but not Loeffler is being targeted by the FBI for insider trading and also that Burr but not L… https://t.co/Gb7ud24zrx— Matthew Yglesias (@Matthew Yglesias)1589454950.0
If Fox News flipped its ideological bent, it would cover the Burr story as a tale of Trump ordering the FBI to take… https://t.co/x2nNvCe9z8— David Corn (@David Corn)1589457836.0
The move comes as the Trump administration sows conspiracy theories about Obama's exploitation of the FBI for his political and personal benefit.
This swamp is murkier than ever.
For a deeper look into the threats posed by Trump's presidency, check out A Very Stable Genius, available here.