Update (1350ET): As political observers speculate about the possibility that the DoJ is targeting Burr because "Trump doesn't like him" (yet another left-wing "conspiracy theory" that's picking up traction with mainstream outlets), another senator who has been embroiled in the probe has reportedly answered questions and turned over documents while her innocence in the matter has only been lightly questioned.
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Update (1215ET): Mitch McConnell just confirmed that Burr will step down from his position as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
It's not exactly a shock...
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Although the public outrage over stock trades made by GOP Senators during the early days of the US coronavirus outbreak appears to have subsided, the DoJ's investigation into the 'controversial' stock trades has continued apace. And in the latest update, the LA Times revealed late Wednesday that FBI agents had seized the cellphone of Sen. Richard Burr during the course of the investigation.
Burr, who is best known to Americans in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Intel Committee, reportedly turned over his phone to agents after they executed a search warrant on his home in the Washington area.
The seizure is a sign of a "significant escalation" in the investigation, the paper said.
The seizure represents a significant escalation in the investigation into whether Burr violated a law preventing members of Congress from trading on insider information they have gleaned from their official work.
To obtain a search warrant, federal agents and prosecutors must persuade a judge they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The law enforcement official said the Justice Department is examining Burr’s communications with his broker.
Such a warrant being served on a sitting U.S. senator would require approval from the highest ranks of the Justice Department and is a step that would not be taken lightly. Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.
A second law enforcement official said FBI agents served a warrant in recent days on Apple to obtain information from Burr’s iCloud account and said agents used data obtained from the California-based company as part of the evidence used to obtain the warrant for the senator’s phone.
Notably, the leak - which reads like something the NYT or WaPo would ordinarily publish - follows a federal judge's decision to try and stop the DoJ from dismissing the charges against former Trump NSA Michael Flynn.
Was this 'leak' really intended to show the public that the DoJ remains non-partisan in the Trump era? We wouldn't be surprised. But the fact remains: If these senators broke the law, they will almost certainly face charges.
Of course, Burr wasn't the only lawmaker to get caught up in the scandal:
Others who have come under fire for stock sales include Rep Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as well as - what's this? - powerful California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.