U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) listens to testimony during the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response, in Washington, U.S., May 12, 2020. Toni L. Sandys/Pool via REUTERS
(Reuters) – U.S. Senator Richard Burr has had his cellphone seized by federal agents as part of the Justice Department’s probe of stock transactions made by the lawmaker ahead of the sharp market downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, a media report said late on Wednesday.
Burr has denied any wrongdoing and said he relied solely on news reports to guide decisions on stock sales, amid reports that he and other senators sold off shares after being briefed on the risks of the coronavirus crisis.
Burr, the Republican Intelligence Committee chairman, turned over his phone to agents after they served a search warrant on him at his Washington residence, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.
A separate law enforcement official told the LA Times that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also served a warrant recently to iPhone maker Apple Inc to get information from Burr’s iCloud account.
Law enforcement agents used data received from the company as part of the evidence used to obtain the warrant for the senator’s phone, the report added.
The Justice Department, the FBI and Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNN reported in March that the Justice Department began to probe a series of stock transactions made by Burr ahead of the market downturn triggered by the virus outbreak. The probe was done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry