Don't Call Senator Richard Burr's Mobile Unless You Want To Talk To The FBI
Good Morning to North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, who is probably questioning his life choices today! The LA Times reports that the FBI made Burr hand over his cell phone last night in relation to the conveniently timed stock trades he put through on February 13 after Intel Committee briefings where he was warned that coronavirus was about to land on America like a ton of bricks.
A warrant means a judge thought there was a pretty good reason to think that Burr's phone contained evidence of a crime. It's never good news when the FBI shows up at your door with a warrant. According to the LA Times, the FBI is after conversations Burr had with his broker. As first reported by ProPublica, Burr dumped upwards of $628,000 worth of securities, including $250,000 in hotel stocks, right before the country went into lockdown and canceled all travel.
The senator has steadfastly maintained that his trades were based entirely on public information, saying "I closely followed CNBC's daily health and science reporting out of its Asia bureau at the time." There was an impenetrable firewall inside his head around the dire warnings he was getting at work, and that information was unavailable to him when he was jettisoning the very stocks that would be affected by the pandemic.
The firewall was still holding on February 7 when he penned an op-ed for Fox News with Senator Lamar Alexander promising that all would be well and talking up the CDC's spiffy new coronavirus tests. (How'd that work out?) But it seems to have sprung a leak, though, on February 27 when Burr gave a private speech to the North Carolina Tar Heels Club warning that the virus was "much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," adding later in remarks obtained by NPR, "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic."
The fact that his brother-in-law Gerald Fauth, a member of the National Mediation Board, also dumped stocks that day is ... not a good look.
And speaking of NOT GOOD, the Times says that this is at least the second warrant in the Burr investigation. Apparently, the FBI already paid a visit to Apple to collect data from Burr's iCloud account, which yielded evidence for the warrant for the senator's phone. So it looks like Burr may be in a heap of shit.
You would think a grown-ass man would have the sense to just text a six-word sell order, not "Stan, get me out of all travel and energy stocks before this virus shit hits the fan, because the CDC says it's going to be BAD." But who even knows anymore!
In fact, there's a whole lot we don't know. Like why Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler got to enjoy her dinner last night without a knock on the door from Johnny Law. Loeffler received the same briefing and executed multiple trades, divesting herself of $1.2 million in stock, including energy stocks which have been absolutely pummeled since we all stopped going to the gas station.
Loeffler insists that she is far too rich to make those trades on her own behalf like some kind of plebeian, and maybe that's why she's not in the Justice Department's crosshairs.
The GOP couldn't throw Burr overboard fast enough when news broke about those trades. Matt Gaetz hasn't said a word about Loeffler, who is up for election in Georgia, but he's been all over Burr since the minute this story dropped. He didn't have to wait for confirmation that Burr was the devil and Loeffler was in the clear, he just knew it intuitively.
Almost like the GOP was all the way ready to stick a shiv in Burr, who authored the Senate Intelligence Report confirming that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump and the Intelligence Community behaved appropriately. Because a warrant on a sitting senator has to be cleared by the top of the Justice Department, which is currently on a mission to weaponize law enforcement to punish Trump's enemies and reward his loyal pals.
You can't ignore the fact that, just a few weeks after Burr's trades became public, the guy who authored Intel's Russia report is already smack in the middle of a criminal investigation, while Loeffler appears, so far, to be walking away clean. FFS, in his mash note cum job application, Barr expounded on his Unitary Executive God King theory that the president has the right to order the DOJ to charge anyone he likes. He already told us that was the plan!
So two things can both be true, and probably are. Burr can be a slippery sumbitch who is rightfully getting the law enforcement attention he deserves. AND Bill Barr can be using the Justice Department to go after anyone who was disloyal to the president.
This is not a good timeline.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.