Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr’s (R-N.C.) highly controversial stock sell-off has #Burrisma trending on social media, an obvious reference to the Ukrainian gas company Burisma that has become a household name in American political discourse.
While other senators’ stock sell-offs have garnered scrutiny — Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), to name a few — there appears to be universal, even bipartisan agreement, that Burr’s transaction was particularly suspicious and wrong. On Thursday night, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson called for Burr to either explain himself honestly or resign and face prosecution for insider trading.
Many other conservative voices agreed.
Richard Burr did so very much to perpetuate the false and damaging Russia collusion hoax. Media loved him for it. But not even they or other activists are helping him now that he's been caught dumping stock. https://t.co/3poO4N9A17 #Burrisma
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) March 20, 2020
You have absolutely no business chairing the Senate Intel Committee while you’re being investigated for corruptly using your position to enrich yourself while the rest of the economy is pushed into depression. https://t.co/KSqqMW0zuV
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 20, 2020
Let's see all the evidence that Burr and Loeffler have to present in their defense. Because if they took advantage of insider information on this pandemic while failing to scream from the rooftops about the dangers, the punishments, politically and legally, should be dire.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 20, 2020
While Richard Burr was receiving daily briefings on the Chinese Virus and reassuring Americans that the government was well equipped to handle the virus
…He was also selling off $1.6 million in stocks which later tanked
Should conservatives be okay with this?
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) March 19, 2020
Left and right, #Burrisma is trending Friday on Twitter.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) March 20, 2020
Burr must resign. https://t.co/SGaaOGTcxf
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) March 20, 2020
It’s just so perfect: #Burrisma
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 20, 2020
How is it possible that politicians are more afraid of Donald Trump than the general public. It should not be any surprise that “drain the swamp” resonates with people. ALL voters need to make them listen. Not just the fringe. #burrisma
— The Lincoln Underground (@lincolnundergr1) March 20, 2020
— Bong-Hits for the MAN (@jerweber) March 20, 2020
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of the existing response.
On Feb. 25, Burr, with Starbucks in hand, acknowledged the camera and was briefed by officials from the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. Two days later, Burr remarked during a luncheon–which included wealthy donors–that the COVID-19 pandemic was “probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”
There was no such dire warning to the general public. As Burr was responding at length to NPR’s report on this, calling it a “hit piece,” reporting about his stock dump emerged and only resulted in more outrage.
It was revealed that two weeks prior to the luncheon Burr and his wife unloaded stocks in industries that have since been particularly hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and concomitant market crash. Per Open Secrets:
Between the Burrs’ two accounts, they sold up to $150,000 worth of stock in Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, which lost almost two-thirds of its market value since Feb. 13. They sold up to $150,000 in Extended Stay America, another hotel company that lost half its value over the last month. Burr also sold up to $65,000 of stock in Park Hotels & Resorts, which saw its stock price drop from nearly $24 to under $5. The hotel industry is asking President Donald Trump for a bailout as Americans increasingly avoid travel.
This sell-off happened a week after Burr co-bylined an op-ed reassuring the American people about the Trump administration’s response; it happened not long after Burr was privy to a Jan. 24 senators-only briefing on the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a statement released Friday, Burr said he relied “solely on public news reports” in making his investment decisions. He also said he asked the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee to “open a complete review.”
Not everyone was convinced by that either.
The self-referral to the Ethics Committee is simply a mechanism for delay by Burr, hoping it helps to weather this storm and gets buried as many ethics investigations into majority members do. This statement is not persuasive — legally or politically. https://t.co/hpgxW4KWx2
— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) March 20, 2020
[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]