Thursday on MSNBC, nighttime host Rachel Maddow speculated about the possibility of the Department of Justice’s investigation into Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and his stock trades in the lead up to the coronavirus pandemic could be tied to allegations of Russia collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
Burr, who set to step down on Friday as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, led the U.S. Senate’s investigation into the collusion matter, which could be tied to Burr’s current dilemma according to Maddow.
Transcript as follows:
It was a dramatic thing today. When the chairman of the very powerful intelligence committee in the Senate stepped down from his chairmanship, it was all the more dramatic for it to have happened because the FBI executed a search warrant and seized his cell phone from him at his house.
The seizure of Senator Richard Burr’s cell phone is apparently part of the FBI investigating him selling up to $1.7 million in stock in mid February when nobody was telling us the public how bad the coronavirus pandemic was about to get, when Senator Burr himself was assuring the public that everything was going to be fine, but his Intelligence Committee was receiving daily briefings how bad it really was and then he dumped his stock.
So him giving up his chairmanship of the intelligence committee and the FBI investigation into what he did, that is a very, very dramatic thing. But one of the absolutely unique ways in which our current federal government is so terrible right now is, that as bad as the insider trading allegations are, against Senator Burr, we also simultaneously have to worry whether the U.S. Justice Department, under Attorney General William Barr, might be targeting Senator Burr for reasons that are less about insider trading and more about convenience to the Trump administration.
Senator Burr, you will recall, has led the only functional bipartisan congressional investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election. His committee’s findings have supported the intelligence committee’s conclusions that, for example, that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Donald Trump’s candidacy. That’s something Donald Trump continues to deny as recently as an interview that aired this morning.
More to the point though, Senator Burr’s committee is set to release its final report in the Russia issue on coming months and that installment, that last installment we’re expecting is on, quote, possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. That’s what Burr’s working on right now. But he’s had to step down as chair of the committee.
It’s crazy that we have to think about these things in these terms. But given this Justice Department, and this attorney general, and the way he has treated the criminal law, is something that is to be applied at will, purely to serve the president’s interests, when we hear that the search warrant for Senator Burr, chair of the Intelligence Committee, would have to have been approved at the highest levels of this particular Justice Department, we have to worry about it.
How worried should we actually be?
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor