Republican Senator Richard Burr could soon be feeling pressure from the top to resign his position and leave the U.S. Senate after a report has surfaced that he dumped as much as $1.7 million worth of stock after he received a closed-door briefing on the coronavirus weeks ago.
This week, a report from ProPublica found that Burr started a major sell-off of his stocks on February 13, during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Burr is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which had received a closed-door briefing about the devastating projection of the virus prior to his decision to dump between roughly $500,000 and $1.7 million of stock.
Two weeks after the stock sell-off, Burr spoke at a private event in Washington in which he delivered a sobering warning about the potential of the COVID-19 virus, one that contrasted with more optimistic projections from President Donald Trump. The president at the time was telling Americans that the outbreak would soon be contained and disappear. Since then, however, it has continued to spread across the country, with more than 10,000 cases identified — a number that is expected to grow quickly.
Burr faced a number of calls to resign after the report of his stock sell-off came to light, with critics saying he quietly pulled out his stock based on knowledge he got as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee about how devastating the outbreak would be — all while withholding this key information from Americans. ABC News senior producer John Santucci reported on Twitter that one of these calls may be coming from the White House.
“Hearing from sources close to President Trump that Burr needs to resign,” Santucci noted on Thursday night.
While it was not clear who, exactly, is calling for Burr’s resignation, he has already come under fire from some of Trump’s allies. Trump backer and news anchor Tucker Carlson spoke on Fox News Thursday night, demanding that Burr explain why he made the stock sales or else resign his position.
The senator has pushed back, saying that there was nothing improper about his stock sales. He told ProPublica that he had filed a disclosure for the transaction long before the stock market’s massive fall.
“Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak,” a spokesperson for him said. “As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy.”