Richard Burr Steps Down From Intel Committee Following FBI Warrant; Feinstein Talks To FBI, While Loeffler Won't Say

from the insider-trading dept

Following the news that the FBI got a warrant and seized Senator Richard Burr's phone as part of its investigation into his alleged insider trading, Burr has announced that he's stepping down from being the chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, where he's long been one of the biggest boosters of the surveillance state.

Of course, some are now wondering if that's part of the reason why the Trumpian wing of the GOP have come out against Burr. Because the Senate Intel Committee has released a report confirming that Russia tried to help Trump win in 2016. The report is not particularly surprising, highlighting many widely known points. However, in Trumpland, no one seems to be able to handle the nuanced differences between the campaign directly "colluding" with Russia (for which the evidence is more limited) with the idea that Russia independently sought to boost Trump (for which the evidence is overwhelming). So, Trump supporters have been clamoring for Burr's head on a platter for merely stating facts, which are not allowed in this world where pointing out that The Emperor is Naked is somehow deemed to be heresy.

Given Attorney General Barr's recent decisions to more fully weaponize and politicize the Justice Department, it can't be dismissed out of hand that there are political reasons for the FBI's sudden interest in Burr, but it still seems like a stretch. Sooner or later it's likely that there will be some fallout from which one can better assess the validity of the warrant, and whether or not Burr was engaged in insider trading.

One point that a few people have raised is to look at whether or not the FBI is looking into any of the other Senators who sold notable chunks of stock just before the pandemic hit, though as we explained in that original story, the situations and fact patterns with each of the other Senators is at least somewhat different than Burr's case. For what it's worth, there are reports that the FBI questioned Senator Dianne Feinstein, who also sold some stock during this period. However, as we pointed out in the original post, there's little indication that her sales were COVID-19 related, especially since it was mostly selling off biotech stocks (exactly the kind of stocks you'd think would go up in a pandemic).

The other Senator's selloff behavior that looked at least somewhat sketchy was Senator Kelly Loeffler, whose actions look worse and worse, as she denies things more vociferously. Just recently, she went on Fox News (natch) to claim that "this is 100% a political attack." Huh? What? You're the one who sold the stock. She also (get this) tried to blame socialism because why not?

This gets at the very heart of why I came to Washington, to defend free enterprise, to defend capitalism. This is a socialist attack.

Who knew that insider trading was "free enterprise"?

Either way, while Burr has had to hand over his phone and Feinstein had to answer questions from the FBI... Loeffler simply refuses to say whether or not the FBI has reached out to her. If it does turn out that the FBI has investigated the others, but left Loeffler entirely alone (whether or not her sales were aboveboard), that's certainly going to be some evidence to add to the pile that the focus on Burr was just as much political as it was about the legal issues at play.

Update: After this story was completed, Loeffler's office announced that she had handed documents over to the SEC and DOJ along with the Senate Ethics Committee. It's unclear if the DOJ/FBI asked for anything or if she just did this proactively. Just a few days ago, there was a report saying that her team was considering doing exactly this as a "hail mary" to try to get out ahead of this story that she can't seem to get rid of, and which appears to be having an impact on her campaign to retain the office that she was gifted a few months ago.

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Filed Under: dianne feinstein, doj, fbi, insider trading, intelligence community, investigations, kelly loeffler, politics, richard burr, russia, russian election interference, senate intelligence committee

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