WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Republican North Carolina Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) has temporarily stepped down as chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee.
The decision came just hours after the FBI seized Burr’s mobile phone reportedly investigating whether Burr illegally used information from Senate briefings to guide his and his family’s stock sales just before the pandemic caused stocks prices to tank.
“This is a distraction to the committee and its members. I think the security of the country is too important to have a distraction,” Burr said Thursday.
Burr notified Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Thursday morning.
McConnell said in a statement, “we agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee.”
“No one is above the law,” Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) said Thursday morning.
Jones said he is confident the Justice Department investigation will be fair and thorough.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill didn’t go as far as to call for Burr to step down as intel chair, but advised he should cooperate fully in the investigation.
“He’ll have to make decisions about what’s in the best interest in the people of North Carolina,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.
Rubio said Burr has correctly asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the matter.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said he expects Burr will continue to cooperate.
“This is a place where you have to have full transparency,” Scott said Thursday morning.
“Everybody ought to let this investigation play out,” Burr added.
He said he used public information, not private briefings, to make his financial decisions.