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DOJ closes insider trading investigation into Sen. Richard Burr

The Justice Department has notified Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina that it has closed the insider trading investigation into him.

“Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year,” Burr said in a statement. “The case is now closed. I’m glad to hear it. My focus has been and will continue to be working for the people of North Carolina during this difficult time for our nation.”

The New York Times was first to report the investigation had been closed.

CNN reported last year that Burr was under investigation by the Justice Department, which was looking into stock transactions he had made ahead of the sharp market downturn sparked by concerns over the coronavirus.

He turned over his official Senate phone to the FBI after a warrant was served, an official confirmed to CNN at the time. Use of the warrant had been signed off at the highest levels of the Justice Department, as is protocol, according to the source.

The Senate-issued cellphone was Burr’s primary device and investigators had asked Apple for information from Burr’s iCloud backup, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Alice Fisher, an attorney for Burr, said in statement Tuesday evening the North Carolina Republican is “pleased that the Department of Justice has completed a thorough review of this matter and closed it without further action.”

“As the country continues to concentrate efforts on battling the challenges presented by COVID-19, Senator Burr’s focus will remain on the safety and security of North Carolinians and the United States as a whole,” Fisher said.

The Department of Justice has now closed all of its investigations into insider trading against members of Congress.

Four members were investigated: former Georgia GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and now Burr.

Burr consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying he made the trades based solely on public information, not information he received from the committee, and he asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review the sales after they were made public.

Still, he faced lingering public scrutiny from his sales — which represented a sizable share of his portfolio of stocks, according to his latest Senate financial disclosure documents filed in May 2019, although exact numbers aren’t possible because lawmakers report trades only as a range of dollar values.

Congress passed the Stock Act in 2012, which made it illegal for lawmakers to use inside information for financial benefit. Under insider trading laws, prosecutors would have needed to prove the lawmakers had traded based on material nonpublic information they had received in violation of a duty to keep it confidential.

Additionally, CNN reported last year that Burr’s brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth, sold a half-dozen stocks for as much as $280,000 on the same day in February that Burr did.

Burr, however, also denied at the time that he coordinated his trading with his brother-in-law that day and declined to discuss the controversy when asked whether he had been in touch with the Justice Department or the Ethics panel.

“I’m not addressing it at all,” he said. “Let’s let these things play out.”

This story has been updated with additional information Tuesday.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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