Senator Made A $164k “Profit” From Well Timed Trade

( Republican Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina has found himself in some hot water.

An FBI warrant that was partially redacted was released earlier this week showed that the Department of Justice has initiated a criminal investigation into Burr surrounding securities fraud and insider trading. The FBI said that the subject of the investigation are “well-timed stock sales” that Burr conducted toward the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

The Los Angeles Times sued to gain access to the warrant through the Freedom of Information Act, which they were successful in doing. Then, they fought the extensive redactions that the DOJ made to the warrant.

Just a few weeks ago, a U.S. district judge ruled that the DOJ had to file a new version of that warrant with more information on the evidence it relied on to get the warrant in the first place. They also were required to re-submit the warrant with not as many redactions.

The DOJ did win two smaller victories in the fight — keeping under seal techniques that law enforcement used as well as witness information that came from third parties.

The initial warrant request was issued back in May of 2020. It asked to allow the FBI to search through Burr’s cellphone.

The warrant request claimed Burr made many well-timed stock trades during February of 2020, right at the time that the federal government was trying to downplay big concerns over COVID-19 spreading in the U.S.

At that time, Burr sold 95% of all the holdings he had in his IRA, and 58% of that in the IRA of his wife, Brooke Burr. In addition, he made purchases of $1.189 million worth of the Federated U.S. Treasury Cash Reserves Fund, in the process using 76% of the total money the couple had in a joint account.

In the affidavit that was filed to justify the warrant, Brandon Merriman, the FBI special agent, said of Burr:

“His portfolio went from approximately 83% in equities to approximately 3% in equities. Beginning on February 20, 2020 — six days after Senator Burr’s sale of the majority of his equity — the stock market endured a dramatic and substantial downturn.

“In total, Senator Burr avoided more than an estimated $87,000 in loss as a result of his well-timed stock sales, and profited more than $164,000.”

It didn’t stop at Burr and his wife, either. His brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth, sold roughly $160,000 worth of stocks after he texted and spoke with Burr, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit issued by the FBI, which was 38 pages, claimed that the sale of all these stocks was suspicious. As a result, agents wanted to search through Burr’s cellphone for communications related to the sales, as part of their overall investigation into whether the congressman violated any laws.

The partially-redacted version of the warrant doesn’t provide many details about what non-public information Burr would’ve had before the pandemic that he could have used as the reason for his stock sales.

At the time, Burr was serving as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, though he stepped down from that post after The Times broke the news about this search warrant.