Be sure to check out this morning’s provocative Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com. As the headline (“Did Trump use FBI to silence Sen. Burr?”) indicates, it poses a very important question about North Carolina’s senior U.S. senator, Richard Burr.
As you will recall, Senator Burr spent much of 2020 under investigation by the FBI after questions were raised about stock trades he made at the onset of the pandemic after he received government briefings about its likely impact in his role as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Recently, just hours before the end of the Trump presidency, the FBI announced that it was ending the investigation.
This is from the editorial:
We’d like to think the probe into Burr’s questionable stock transactions, made ahead of a sharp market drop amid the spread of the coronavirus and after Burr and others in the Senate had received a closed-door briefing on the emerging pandemic, was prompted by the Trump administration’s concerns over ethical behavior by public officials.
But experience leads us to wonder if it looks like something else altogether. To those looking on, it may seem to be more a scene from a movie like “The Godfather” than “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Based on all we’ve witnessed of Trump’s modus operandi, it looks like an effort to put the squeeze on and muzzle any action – no matter how mild – that Burr’s Senate Intelligence Committee might take in its inquiry into efforts by Russia and other international actors to influence the 2016 elections.
As the editorial notes, Burr had shown that he would not blindly defend Trump from allegations regarding his links to Russia and on May 8 — just days before the FBI announced its investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to Donald Trump, Jr. What’s more, all the other senators under investigation for the same action saw their cases dropped by the end of May.
Here’s the conclusion to the editorial:
Burr allowed, in a bipartisan way, the committee and its investigators to do their work and find the facts. That was not to Trump’s liking and when the stock transaction controversy hit as the 2020 campaign was heating up, it was Trump’s opportunity to shut the committee up and get Burr out of the way. FBI agents seized Burr’s cellphone and launched a Justice Department probe. Burr “temporarily” stepped down as the committee’s chair and was replaced by Trump cheerleader Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. The committee went quiet.
Burr has insisted there was nothing inappropriate about the stock trades and took his actions based on publicly available information. He asked the Senate Ethics Committee to examine his actions. There’s been no word, as of yet, from the Ethics Committee. The committee should do its work and fully disclose its findings. If Burr did anything wrong, so be it and appropriate action should be taken.
Trump wanted to make Burr an example. Republicans in Congress were so afraid of Trump and his base, they feared doing their job and telling the truth, only to face the retribution sure to follow.
Step out of line and look at what happens. It won’t be nice. Just ask exhibit #1: Richard Burr.
If Trump really did this it would be horrific, but given his other misdeeds, not surprising. If they didn’t already have plenty of other evidence to convict him on, it would be a topic worth investigating for inclusion in Trump’s impeachment proceedings.
Click here to read the full editorial.