(WASHINGTON) — Federal agents seized a cellphone belonging to a prominent Republican senator on Wednesday night as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into controversial stock trades he made as the novel coronavirus first struck the U.S., a law enforcement official said.
Sen. Richard Burr [R] of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, turned over his phone to agents after they served a search warrant on the lawmaker at his residence in the Washington area, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a law enforcement action.
The seizure represents a significant escalation in the investigation into whether Burr violated a law preventing members of Congress from trading on insider information they have gleaned from their official work.
To obtain a search warrant, federal agents and prosecutors must persuade a judge they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The law enforcement official said the Justice Department is examining Burr’s communications with his broker.
To obtain a search warrant for the cell phone of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) likely must cross a much higher bar to establish “probable cause” before a warrant would be issued..
The warrant, ostensibly issued as part of an investigation into insider trading – Burr sold off a large tranche of stocks after he was briefed on the potential pandemic and before the public was warned – may have further implications.
Nearly a month ago NPR broke the story…
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned a small group of well-connected constituents three weeks ago to prepare for dire economic and societal effects of the coronavirus, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR…
“… There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks obtained by NPR. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”
Senator Burr then dumped a significant portion of his investment portfolio in a series of 33 transactions.
But going after the powerful Chairman of the SSCI, especially when there’s lesser senators like Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) who may be the wealthiest member of Congress and who also dumped a boatload of stock… a much larger boatload of stock than did Burr… might signal that there’s more to this search warrant than just a million dollars (or so) in stock transactions.
“Newly released documents show Schiff knew all along there was no proof of Russia-Trump collusion.” Wall Street Journal
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2020
If Schiff knew there was no collusion, then it’s hard to see how his Senate counterpart didn’t…
Richard Burr was in on it: pic.twitter.com/4oMaFC2giU
— Jewish Deplorable ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@TrumpJew) May 14, 2020
Something more than an SEC investigation into insider trading appears to be at play here.