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Marco Rubio Takes Over for Richard Burr as Senate Intel Chairman

Senator Marco Rubio questions witnesses before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 29, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) announced Monday that Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) would assume the role of interim chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after Senator Richard Burr (R., N.C.) stepped down from the post last week.

In a statement, McConnell called the temporary appointment of Rubio “the natural choice.” “His proven leadership on pertinent issues only made the decision easier.”

Democratic vice chairman Mark Warner also praised the move. “Senator Rubio has been a great partner on intelligence and national security issues and I look forward to working with him in his new role as acting chairman,” Warner said.

“I am grateful to Leader McConnell for his confidence in me to lead the Senate Intelligence Committee during Senator Burr’s absence from the Chairmanship,” Rubio said in a statement. “The Committee has long been one that conducts its work seriously, and I look forward to continuing that tradition.”

With the appointment, Rubio now joins the “Gang of 8,” the group of congressional leaders who receive the most sensitive classified briefings.

McConnell revealed that Burr stepped down last Thursday, saying he and the North Carolina Republican agreed “this decision would be in the best interests of the committee.” The resignation came after Burr was served a warrant by FBI agents at his Washington, D.C., area home as part of a probe into alleged insider trading. Burr’s cell phone was also confiscated as part of the Justice Department’s investigation.

Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.7 million in stocks on February 13, after receiving a classified briefing in January on the emergent coronavirus in China. The senator has claimed that he made the trades based on publicly available information, but has drawn scrutiny for public statements dismissing the threat of the 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,” Burr admitted to a group of North Carolina businessman on February 27. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

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