Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I have some tea and it involves Senator Richard Burr.
Richard Burr, A Senator and Now Former Intelligence Committee chairman has step down from his post Thursday after FBI agents seized his cellphone, seeking evidence related to stock sales he made before the coronavirus pandemic crashed global markets. According to The Washington Post;
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that Burr, a North Carolina Republican, informed him Thursday morning of his decision to step aside as committee chairman “during the pendency of the investigation.” The two agreed, McConnell added, “that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee” and was to take effect Friday.
FBI agents, acting with approval from the “highest levels” of the Justice Department, served a search warrant for Burr’s cellphone to his lawyer, and then went to Burr’s Washington-area home to take possession of the device, according to people familiar with the matter, who, like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Burr’s decision to surrender his role as chairman acknowledges the awkward, ethically fraught dynamic that would have existed if he had continued to lead a committee with oversight responsibilities for an agency conducting a criminal investigation of his conduct, and comes as he has fallen out of favor with President Trump and his allies over his handling of the committee’s sweeping, years-long investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Investigators also obtained a search warrant to examine data in the senator’s cloud storage for his iPhone, people familiar with the case said. The Burr search warrants were first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Burr’s departure as Intelligence Committee chairman also has implications for the delicate balance of power between the government’s executive and legislative branches, suggesting that an investigation alone may be enough to remove a senior lawmaker from a key post. In the case of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), he did not step down from a ranking committee position until after he was indicted on corruption charges in 2015 a case that eventually fell apart.
A person familiar with the investigation of Burr and other senators said investigators are examining the timing of his trades and any communications concerning stock sales that he may have had with his brother-in-law and others. This person cautioned, however, that there are significant legal hurdles to bringing charges in such cases, particularly the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which covers many of the activities of members of Congress.