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Republican Senator Richard Burr will step down as chairman of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee after the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized his mobile phone – a move representing a major escalation into the stock trade probe.
Burr, as well as other senators, have been accused of insider trading after selling stocks weeks before the severity of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic was publicly revealed to the American people.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Burr contacted him on Thursday morning, May 14, to inform him of his decision. “We agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee and will be effective at the end of the day tomorrow,” said McConnell in a statement.
The Senate panel is soon to release an extensive report, led by Burr, on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US presidential election, with the Intelligence Committee stating that Moscow sought to meddle in the campaign. Although Burr has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, he has said that the decision to step aside was so that the committee could focus on the Russia investigation.
US President Donald Trump has said he did not know anything about Burr’s decision. It is also unclear at present who would step in as chairman.
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