One of Fox News Channel’s flagship primetime hosts called for a Republican senator to resign over claims that the lawmaker dumped stocks on the eve of the coronavirus hitting the U.S. with full force.
Tucker Carlson commented on Thursday’s show about a story earlier in the day from Pro Publica that said that Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions.
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
This should be a major story most of the day:https://t.co/r1sCHAzl66
— ≡l≡v≡nth (@3L3V3NTH) March 20, 2020
Mr. Burr made the stock sales shortly before giving a dire speech about the potential damage the coronavirus could do to the U.S. economy and American society, prompting accusations of insider trading.
“He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money and then he stayed silent,” Mr. Carlson said of Mr. Burr, who is co-chairman of the Senate intelligence committee. “He had inside information about what could happen … which is now happening.”
Mr. Carlson said there could be “an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately.
“Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading. There’s no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis. That appears to be what happened,” he concluded.
While it was no secret in February that coronavirus was devastating China and starting to spread abroad, its impact on the U.S. looked uncertain then. Just a month later, American daily life has been upended as cities and states are going into lockdown mode, sports leagues have been canceled, and the stock market has cratered.
According to the NPR report, Mr. Burr gave a speech Feb. 27 — a time when President Trump was regularly downplaying the threat and even Mr. Burr himself had recently written a calming op-ed — in which the North Carolina senator warned the Capitol Hill Club of a society-wrenching pandemic.
“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks obtained by NPR. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic” of Spanish flu.
In a Twitter thread Thursday evening, Mr. Burr denounced the NPR story as “a tabloid-style hit piece” in which the liberal-leaning network “knowingly and irresponsibly misrepresented a speech I gave last month about the coronavirus threat.”
In a tabloid-style hit piece today, NPR knowingly and irresponsibly misrepresented a speech I gave last month about the coronavirus threat. Let me set the record straight. 1/
— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) March 19, 2020
He said it was a public speech, not a secret pow-wow with insiders, and also said it was consistent with the warnings that many public officials were giving about the possible future impact.
Later in the day, Pro Publica reported that the speech came a couple of weeks after the stock sales, which NPR did not mention.
“As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time,” Pro Publica wrote.
His spokesman told Pro Publica that the lawmaker made the sales “before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak.”
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