Presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Chris Van Hollen co-wrote a letter on Monday to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting an "investigation into whether there may have been any illegal trading in defense company stocks or commodities related to individuals' advance knowledge of the United States attack on January 2, 2020, that killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani."
Warren, Van Hollen ask SEC and CFTC to investigate possible insider trading by Mar-a-Lago members reportedly given advance notice on Iran action.— Kayla Tausche (@kaylatausche) January 14, 2020
Letter references rise in $NOC, $LMT, $RTN shares and the price of crude oil after strike.
The letter alleges that President Trump told guests at the Mar-A-Lago resort that military action was pending in the Middle East.
The senators pulled a quote from a story that was featured on the left-leaning Daily Beast that detailed how three unnamed sources at the resort heard President Trump talking to guests about an upcoming military operation:
"In the five days prior to launching a strike that killed Iran's most important military leader, Donald Trump roamed the halls of Mar-a-Lago, his private resort in Florida, and started dropping hints to close associates and club-goers that something huge was coming ... Trump began telling friends and allies hanging at his perennial vacation getaway that he was working on a ~big' response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very •soon.' [T]he president specifically mentioned he'd been in close contact with his top national security and military advisers on gaming out options for an aggressive action that could quickly materialize."
The letter went onto say that "guests at President Trump's resort may have obtained confidential market-moving information and had the opportunity to trade defense industry stocks or commodities or make other trades based on this information."
It also said, "Between January 2, 2020, before the announcement of the attack, and the end of the day on January 3, 2020, Northrop Grumman stock prices increased by over 5%; Lockheed Martin's stock prices increased by 3.6%... Additionally, immediately following the killing of Soleimani, the price of crude oil increased by over 4%."
However, as the charts below show, defense stocks were actually down ahead of the attack on the embassy, which triggered the first push higher, and then surged on Soleimani's death headlines...
We've noted in the past how left-leaning news organizations have played politics and tried to suggest President Trump and his associates were front-running equity futures, commodities, and or stocks ahead of trade headlines.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) called the infamous Vanity Fair piece titled - "The Fantastically Profitable Mystery of the Trump Chaos Trades" - a "fantastical" story:
"CME Group regularly monitors its markets for suspicious activity.
As it relates to the Vanity Fair article published on October 17, 2019, regarding activities in the E-mini S&P 500 futures contract, the allegations about the trading activity are patently false.
These transactions were entered into by a significant number of diverse market participants."
And at the time the Vanity Fair piece was released, we did not run a comment on the article because of our initial skepticism of the reporting, and as Bloomberg reported, experts who examined the story said any implication that people traded on inside information fell short of being proven.