Uh Oh: FBI Serves Search Warrant On Senator Richard Burr, Seizes His Phone

from the how-do-you-feel-about-surveillance-now? dept

I'm wondering how Senator Richard Burr feels about phone encryption right about now? As you may recall, the notoriously pro-surveillance Senator has whined about phone encryption at great length and even introduced legislation that would effectively end encryption on phones.

And yet, the FBI just served a search warrant on him and seized his phone as part of its investigation into claims that he engaged in insider trading:

Federal agents seized a cellphone belonging to Sen. Richard Burr on Wednesday night as part of a Justice Department probe into stock transactions he made ahead of the sharp market downturn sparked by concerns over the coronavirus, a law enforcement official told the Los Angeles Times.

The North Carolina Republican turned over his phone after agents served a search warrant at his home in the Washington area, the official told the newspaper.

This likely means that there's even more going on than has been made public so far, and it's unlikely to be good for Senator Burr. As former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti explains, to get that search warrant, it means that a judge was convinced that Burr likely engaged in insider trading and that there was evidence to that effect on his phone:

And as others have noted, the FBI -- for whatever faults it might have (and they are many) -- does not just show up at a Senator's home with a warrant on a hunch.

Of course, the bigger issue was that while he was selling all those stocks (including a bunch of hotel stocks), he was claiming publicly that everything was fine and that the US had COVID-19 under control. Frankly, that part should be the bigger scandal, but unfortunately it won't be.

Filed Under: doj, encryption, fbi, insider trading, phone, richard burr, warrant


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 9:54am

    Revenge

    Alexander Hamilton is having his revenge it seems - on the wrong Senator Burr but still!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 9:59am

    Insider Trading?

    Is it only the staffers that can do this legally?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 10:04am

      Re: Insider Trading?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 11:34am

        Re: Re: Insider Trading?

        Guess who was among the senators who voted against that bill?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 11:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Insider Trading?

          In February 2012, the STOCK Act passed in the Senate by a 96–3 vote; the only no votes were senators Jeff Bingaman, Richard Burr, and Tom Coburn. Later the House of Representatives passed it by a 417–2 vote.

          Oh it's even better, as pointed out in the wikipedia page he was not just one of those that voted against a bill aimed at cracking down on insider trading, he was one of five. In a bill with overwhelming support(in both the senate and house), him and four others total were the only ones to vote against, and given current circumstances it's not hard to suspect why.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 10:07am

    Could this be retribution for his support of the Russia report?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 10:09am

    As a North Carolina native (but not a native of the district Burr represents), I take great pleasure in saying the following: Get fucked, Dick. 😁

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 12:59pm

      Re:

      He's a senator. Not a congressman.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        NoahVail (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 1:11pm

        Re: Re:

        You're saying he's a senator in something other than US Congress. I guess that's an opinion you can have.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 1:31pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          While the Senate and the Congress make up "Congress" (a full 3rd of the U.S. leadership triad), saying that a U.S. Senator is a "congressman" or that he represents a "district" is incorrect. Senator Burr (along with one additional U.S Senator from North Carolina) represent all of the state in their chamber of Congress (known as the Senate).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 2:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "While the Senate and the Congress make up "Congress""

            The US has a Senate and a House of Representatives that comprise "Congress".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              TFG, 14 May 2020 @ 3:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Let me fix the original reply before this goes further off the rails:

              "He's a Senator, not a Representative." [Where Representative refers to a member of the House of Representatives.]

              The point is well-made that Senator Burr represents (or represented) the whole state of North Carolina, not just a single district.

              Which means Mr. Stone can be even more personal in the "Get fucked, Dick" sentiment.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 4:35pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Oh .... that makes sense after I looked at it again, and again.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 12:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Senator = Congressman
                Representative = Congressmen

                Senator =/= Representative

                Senate + House of Representatives = Congress

                Yes, Burr is a senator and is not specific to any congressional district.

                Stephen T. Stone made a simple mistake in terms of Burr having a district since senators are not district specific as are the representatives in the house.

                US Government 101 people: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Congress

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 14 May 2020 @ 10:10am

    Oh come on.

    Of course, the bigger issue was that while he was selling all those stocks (including a bunch of hotel stocks), he was claiming publicly that everything was fine and that the US had COVID-19 under control. Frankly, that part should be the bigger scandal, but unfortunately it won't be.

    Look, delaying that sort of information that he was privy of in pursuance of his job catering for the common good cannot have caused more than a few thousand deaths while saving himself millions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dan8mx (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 10:29am

    Encryption

    He promptly unlocked his phone and removed the passcode upon upon being asked for it by law enforcement I trust?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 10:32am

    Oh, and his brother-in-law, who also works for the White House, coincidentally, ALSO unloaded loads of stock around the same time as Burr did.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    pegr, 14 May 2020 @ 10:32am

    Annnnnnd, he's gone!

    He has resigned. That suggests he is guilty. To hell with him!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 10:39am

      Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

      Nope, at this point he has just stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee. (https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/burr-leaves-top-senate-intelligence-post-amid-probe-of-stock-sales /19098180/)

      He is, unfortunately, still a senator. Hopefully that too changes

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DB (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 12:22pm

        Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

        Reports indicate that it was Mitch McConnell that announced Burr would be stepping down from the committee.

        "Senator Burr contacted me this morning to inform me of his decision to step aside as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee during the pendency of the investigation," McConnell said in a written statement. "We agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee and will be effective at the end of the day tomorrow."

        That suggests that McConnell told Burr that he was off of the committee, and Burr didn't go along with the plan enough to announce it himself. A resignation doesn't seem likely at this point.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 2:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

          Huh. McConnell finally has a moment of integrity, and it's over this? I wonder what Burr got stuck up McConnell's ass that finally drove him over the edge.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 4:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

            McConnnell and integrity? Not a chance, I imagine Burr simply made too big of a target of himself and McConnell threw him under the bus.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ceyarrecks (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 10:41am

      Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

      soooo, forgive my ignorance of the legal system, but, resigning makes breaking the law all better?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 11:27am

        Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

        Er... what?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 12:37pm

        Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

        No it does not, but that is a matter for the DOJ, lol

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        NoahVail (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 1:16pm

        Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

        resigning makes breaking the law all better?

        The guy who performed no meaningful oversight of the FBI, resigned his position of overseeing the FBI. We can rest assured someone else will take his place and shill hard for the agency.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 2:52pm

        Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

        That's the accepted political wisdom, yes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Koby (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

      He has resigned. That suggests he is guilty. To hell with him!

      Be careful, Senator Stevens from Alaska went through a similar thing in 2008. He was even convicted and lost his Senate seat before evidence of FBI corruption was uncovered and the verdict overturned. All I'm saying is: never trust an FBI agent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 1:44pm

        Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

        That might be a good rule of thumb in general, but when the publicly available information is so damning(told the public not to worry while selling stocks) in this case I'd lean towards there probably being something worth digging in to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

        Not to get off on a stupid tangent, but ....
        Verdict was overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct, not because Ted was innocent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 2:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: Annnnnnd, he's gone!

          Sorry to be that guy, but the case against Stevens went tits up because the guy who allegedly filed invoices for payment by Stevens with an understanding that they were just a cover story got caught lying to the FBI and the prosecutor didn't disclose it to the defense and actively covered up for years. It wasn't just a "procedural error".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 10:51am

    It was good for the public, so it's good for him right?

    As someone is vehemently anti-encryption I'm sure he either didn't encrypt his phone, or will be happy to provide the password so as to ensure a quick and speedy investigation of course.

    Doing otherwise would reveal him to be a raging hypocrite after all, not to mention utterly destroy any 'encryption is only for criminals, only the guilty have things to hide' arguments he might make, and I'm sure he'd never do something like that...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 14 May 2020 @ 7:02pm

      Re: It was good for the public, so it's good for him right?

      Doing otherwise would reveal him to be a raging hypocrite after all, not to mention utterly destroy any 'encryption is only for criminals, only the guilty have things to hide' arguments he might make

      That's only hypocritical if he's not guilty.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 11:29am

    I can see a new ad campaign for strong encryption singing "How do you like me now?" as Sen. Burr does the perp walk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

      That...would be a pretty mixed signal for a campaign ad.

      While I wholeheartedly agree that, innocent or guilty, Burr should have access to strong encryption to protect his data, that's generally not a position that plays very well in 30-second TV spot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Beefcake (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 12:23pm

    Staving off the Burrdome

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    arp2 (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 12:25pm

    Retribution

    This is absolutely retribution for correctly submitting a report that Russia interfered in the election for the benefit of Trump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DeComposer (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 4:05pm

    Also worth noting...

    That the FBI served a search warrant on a sitting US senator means that A.G. Bill Barr was certainly involved in the process—in all likelihood, directly involved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 15 May 2020 @ 2:20am

    If he hasn't destroyed any compromising data 2 months ...

    ... after being found out, he deserves whatever the Feds throw at him. And yes, a new phone would have been a good investment, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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