Justice Dept. won’t charge Sen. Burr over stock trades

Politics

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 21: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) speaks during a Senate Special Committee of Aging hearing on The COVID-19 Pandemic and Seniors: A Look at Racial Health Disparities at the US Capitol on July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is looking into the data that has been showing that communities of color have been disproportionately negatively affected by the spread of the coronavirus when compared to the caucasian population in the United States. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Richard Burr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has told him that it will not prosecute him over stock sales made during the coronavirus pandemic, ending an insider trading investigation that led him to at least temporarily step aside from a powerful committee chairmanship last year.

Prosecutors had investigated for months whether the North Carolina Republican and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee had exploited advance information when he unloaded as much as $1.7 million in stocks in the days before the coronavirus caused markets to plummet.

“The case is now closed,” Burr said in a statement. “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.”

His lawyer, Alice Fisher, described the investigation as a “thorough review” and said Burr, who has said he will not seek reelection after his term ends in 2023, would remain focused on “the safety and security of North Carolinians and the United States as a whole.”

A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment. The New York Times was first to report on the decision to not bring charges.

When the investigation became public, Burr said he would step aside as chairman while the FBI investigation was ongoing. It is unclear whether he will retake the role as the panel’s top Republican now that he has been cleared.

The investigation escalated in May when the FBI obtained a search warrant to seize a cellphone from Burr. The day after that action became public, Burr said he would step aside as Intelligence Committee chairman while the FBI investigation was ongoing. It is unclear whether he will retake the role as the panel’s top Republican now that he has been cleared.

Democrats are set to take control of the Senate on Wednesday, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner will become the panel’s chairman.

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