Reports surfaced on Thursday that North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr dumped up to $1.6 million in stock shortly before the market crashed due to coronavirus fears. Just hours later, a popular host on the conservative Fox News network — Tucker Carlson — demanded that Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, resign from his office and "face prosecution."
Carlson, as seen in the video below on this page, went on to accuse Burr of "betraying your country in a time of crisis," which Carlson called "a moral crime." As chair of the senate intelligence committee, Burr would have received briefings about the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak. But he made no public statements indicating that he was aware of the coming crisis, and in fact, published an op-ed article in which he reassured readers that the Trump administration and Congress were acting "swiftly and decisively" to curb the outbreak.
Burr was not the only Republican senator to face allegations of dumping stock after receiving inside information about the coronavirus outbreak. According to a report by The Daily Beast on Thursday, Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler also unloaded millions of dollars worth of stock starting on January 24 — the very day that she and other senators received a confidential briefing from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, on the coronavirus outbreak.Even as Loeffler and her husband were selling stock throughout February in a series of 29 transactions, according to the report, the Republican senator tweeted that Trump was "doing a great job working to keep Americans healthy & safe," and saying that Democrats had "dangerously misled" the public about the crisis, as quoted by the site.
For Burr, however, Thursday was a day of difficult news reports. Earlier in the day, NPR reported that Burr on February 27 delivered a dire warning about the crisis to a private gathering of wealthy donors — while publicly maintaining silence, except for his earlier op-ed in which he struck a reassuring tone.
Burr took to his Twitter account, in a multi-tweet message compiled by Thread Reader, to slam the NPR report as "a tabloid-style hit piece," claiming that the radio network "irresponsibly misrepresented" his speech to the group.
Burr also claimed that the speech was "publicly advertised" and was not "secretive." He went on to say that the message of his speech to the group was "the one public health officials urged all of us to heed."
The North Carolina senator, however, had not yet addressed the claims that he dumped stock just ahead of the market crash that was triggered by coronavirus fears. In his Fox News broadcast on Thursday, Carlson said that if Burr has an "honest explanation" for the transactions, he must provide it to the public "immediately."