In a statement released Friday, Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) claimed he did not use classified information from briefings about the pending coronavirus pandemic before he sold more than million dollars worth of stocks ahead of a bear market.
Burr also asked the Senate Ethics Committee to open a review of his case.
Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold $1.7 million in stocks between late January and mid-February. Since Feb. 20, the stock market has fallen 9,000 points.
On Friday, Burr said that he only used "public news reports" to guide his decision to sell stocks.
According to a Reuters report, Burr was receiving daily briefings about the virus as part of his work on the intelligence committee.
On Thursday, NPR published an audio recording of Burr warning a group of business professionals three weeks ago that COVID-19 would prompt dire economic circumstances. But in an op-ed for Fox News on Feb. 7, Burr said that America was "prepared" for the virus.
Burr's statement comes amid calls for his resignation. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (R-New York), a leader among the Democratic party's progressive wing, tweeted a call for Burr's resignation Thursday night.
As Intel chairman, @SenatorBurr got private briefings about Coronavirus weeks ago.
Burr knew how bad it would be. He told the truth to his wealthy donors, while assuring the public that we were fine.
THEN he sold off $1.6 million in stock before the fall.
He needs to resign. https://t.co/IAITMbJ3R5
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 19, 2020
But calls for Burr's resignation have also come from in his own party. On his Fox News show Thursday night, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson called for Burr's resignation in a scathing monologue.
Tucker Carlson calls for Senator Burr to resign and await prosecution for insider trading if he cannot provide a reasonable explanation for his actions. He goes on to say it appears that Senator Burr betrayed his country in a time of crisis pic.twitter.com/q7yJa5wjuA
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) March 20, 2020
Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler is also accused of selling assets prior to the stock market's big losses. On Friday, she called accusations of insider trading a "ridiculous and baseless attack," adding that her "investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisors without my or my husband's knowledge or involvement."
As confirmed in the periodic transaction report to Senate Ethics, I was informed of these purchases and sales on February 16, 2020 — three weeks after they were made.
— Senator Kelly Loeffler (@SenatorLoeffler) March 20, 2020
Loeffler's husband is Jeffrey C. Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.