ProPublica is reporting that some senators sold off significant amounts in stock weeks before coronavirus caused Wall Street to tank, Willie Geist said this morning.
"According to ProPublica, senator and committee chairman Richard Burr sold off $628,000 and $1.7 million of his holdings on February 13," Geist said.
"The report points out that as the head of the intel committee, Burr, of course, has access to the government's most highly classified information about threats to American security. His committee received daily coronavirus briefings around the time of the sale. NPR is reporting on February 27, Burr raised alarms about coronavirus while speaking to a group of constituents."
"An aide to Senator Burr tells NBC News the stock sales were made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. The Daily Beast also reporting that Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler dumped off millions following a briefing on the coronavirus. She reported the first stock jointly owned by her and her husband on January 24, the very same day the Senate Health Committee held a briefing for Senate officials, including Dr. Fauci.
"She called it 'a ridiculous and baseless attack' on Twitter overnight, writing, 'I do not make investment decisions for my portfolio. Investment decisions are made by third-party advisers without my or my husband's knowledge or involvement.' It is worth noting Senator Loeffler's husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.
"Meanwhile, the New York Times reports two other senators sold major holdings around the same time Senator Burr did. According to the disclosure records, fellow intel committee member, Democrat Diane Feinstein of California and James Imhofe."
(It's the Times, so they had to turn it into a "both sides" story.)
As Kasie Hunt points out, Kelly Loeffler is the richest member of Congress "before the stock market volatility. Her and her husband's network was estimated at half a billion dollars. These are people, a lot of the lawmakers, frankly, who have access to things a lot of regular Americans don't have access to. The reality though, Willie, and I think another thing that's making people angry as they digest these stories, is that this is not technically illegal."
At which point, I stopped taking Hunt seriously. This IS illegal, under the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, signed by Obama. It calls for a fine or imprisonment up to 15 years.
FYI to readers: The trading patterns of Feinstein and Imhofe don't fit the profile of insider trading.