The Justice Department has dropped insider-trading investigations into three U.S. senators but remains focused on Senator Richard Burr (R., N.C.), according to multiple reports.
Prosecutors have informed attorneys for Senators Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), and Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) that they were no longer under investigation for selling off millions in stock in January ahead of the coronavirus market dip, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. All three said the trades were made through third-party advisers and that they had no knowledge of them until after the fact.
Loeffler, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, said in April that she and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher — chairman of the New York Stock Exchange — would be liquidating their personal stock holdings following public scrutiny.
“Today’s clear exoneration affirms what I’ve said all along: I did nothing wrong,” Loeffler tweeted following the news. “This was a politically-motivated attack promoted by the fake news media and my political opponents. I’m continuing to focus my full attention on results for Georgia.”
The Georgia businesswoman, who was appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in December to fill former Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson’s seat, has fallen in the polls against Representative Doug Collins for November’s special election. An April poll found that GOP Georgia voters preferred Collins to Loeffler by a 62–18 margin.
Burr, who stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, had a more direct role in his trades. The trades represented a significant share of his total holdings and were collectively worth between $628,000 and $1.7 million.
Burr has said he “relied solely on public news reports” to ascertain the severity of the coronavirus’s likely impact on the market. But he wrote an opinion article for Fox News days after his sale suggesting that the United States was “better prepared than ever before” to deal with coronavirus. Two weeks later, he told a small gathering of North Carolina businessmen that the novel virus was “probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic,” according to a recording obtained by NPR.