“Now maybe there’s an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, then he should share it with the rest of us immediately,” Carlson said Thursday. “Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”
Carlson, whose nightly show reportedly has significant sway on President Trump’s thinking, continued condemning the Republican senator, whose estimated $628,033 to $1.72 million in stock market sales were described by many as “stomach-churning” and “personal corruption.”
“There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis, and that appears to be what happened,” Carlson added.
Burr reportedly received daily briefings on the threat posed by the growing epidemic. Publicly, Burr downplayed the novel coronavirus concerns, co-writing a Fox News op-ed last month that said the United States was “better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus, in large part due to the work of the Senate Health Committee, Congress, and the Trump Administration.” Privately, as NPR reported Thursday, Burr warned attendees at an event that the virus would likely disrupt the American economy in significant ways.
The senator from North Carolina has disputed the characterization of a disconnect between his public and private warnings, claiming the comments he made at an event on Feb. 27 should be considered public because it was “publicly advertised and widely attended.” His office also denied to The Washington Post the allegation that the senator decided to sell his stocks because of prior knowledge that the economy would suffer losses because of the pandemic.
“Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak,” Burr’s office said in a statement. “As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy. He supported Congress’ immediate efforts to provide $7.8 billion for response efforts and this week’s bipartisan bill to provide relief for American business and small families.”
Another Senate Republican faced insider trading allegations on Thursday. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) reportedly began selling off stocks on Jan. 24, the same day she attended a Senate Health Committee hearing on the coronavirus, the Daily Beast reported. Loeffler called the allegation a “ridiculous and baseless attack” and said she does not personally make decisions about her investment portfolio.
Many observers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), echoed Carlson’s concerns about Burr.
“It’s stomach-churning that the first thoughts these Senators had to a dire & classified #COVID briefing was how to profit off this crisis,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, calling on both Burr and Loeffler to resign.
Joining Ocasio-Cortez in speaking out against the senators was a who’s who of prominent Democrats. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) called for Burr to step down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee pending an ethics investigation into his investments. His brother, former housing secretary Julián Castro, made a similar appeal.
North Carolina Democratic Party chairman Wayne Goodwin also called on Burr to resign, saying he had “betrayed the trust of every North Carolinian in a time of crisis.”
“Across North Carolina, families are anxious about the future amid this growing public health crisis and looking for moral leadership from their elected officials,” Goodwin said in a statement Friday.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang said on Twitter that any lawmaker who adjusted his or her personal stock portfolios before warning the American people about the threat posed by the coronavirus “should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest.”
Many other political commentators on the left also sided with Carlson, much to their surprise.
“I completely agree with Tucker Carlson is something I thought I would never say,” tweeted CNN commentator Keith Boykin. “2020 is totally crazy.”