Sens. Burr, Loeffler defend pre-virus stock sales amid calls for their resignations

Posted at 2:22 PM, Mar 20, 2020

In a statement released Friday, Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) claimed he did not use classified information from briefings about the pending coronavirus pandemic before he sold more than million dollars worth of stocks ahead of a bear market.

Burr also asked the Senate Ethics Committee to open a review of his case.

Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold $1.7 million in stocks between late January and mid-February. Since Feb. 20, the stock market has fallen 9,000 points.

On Friday, Burr said that he only used "public news reports" to guide his decision to sell stocks.

According to a Reuters report, Burr was receiving daily briefings about the virus as part of his work on the intelligence committee.

On Thursday, NPR published an audio recording of Burr warning a group of business professionals three weeks ago that COVID-19 would prompt dire economic circumstances. But in an op-ed for Fox News on Feb. 7, Burr said that America was "prepared" for the virus.

Burr's statement comes amid calls for his resignation. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (R-New York), a leader among the Democratic party's progressive wing, tweeted a call for Burr's resignation Thursday night.

But calls for Burr's resignation have also come from in his own party. On his Fox News show Thursday night, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson called for Burr's resignation in a scathing monologue.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler is also accused of selling assets prior to the stock market's big losses. On Friday, she called accusations of insider trading a "ridiculous and baseless attack," adding that her "investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisors without my or my husband's knowledge or involvement."

Loeffler's husband is Jeffrey C. Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.