In a strident monologue Thursday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson accused Republican Sen. Richard Burr of “betraying [his] country in a time of crisis,” and called on him to resign.
Carlson’s outrage came after news surfaced that Burr, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, had sold off millions of stock just weeks before the market dropped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“He had inside information about what could happen to our country, which is now happening, but he didn’t warn the public,” Carlson said, noting that the North Carolina senator had even written an op-ed for Fox News claiming, “The public health preparedness and response framework that Congress has put in place and that the Trump Administration is actively implementing today is helping to protect Americans.”
“Instead,” Carlson said, “He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money.”
“There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis,” he added.
Earlier Thursday night, ProPublica uncovered financial disclosures showing that Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his stock holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions.
As ProPublica’s Robert Faturechi and Derek Willis noted:
As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story.
Burr’s spokesperson told ProPublica that he “has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy”:
“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,” his spokesperson said.
Other members of Congress, including Sen. Kelly Loeffler, also reported selling stocks following a closed-door briefing on the risks of coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit global markets hard. As my colleague Ian Millhiser reported earlier this week, the recession caused by the virus has cost the stock market all of the gains it made since Trump’s inauguration.
On January 19, 2017, the day before Trump took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 19,804.72. For much of Wednesday, the Dow dropped below that level, meaning that the rise in stock prices Trump touted so recently — and that he hoped to ride into this November’s election — no longer really exists. (Although, for what it is worth, the markets closed with the Dow slightly above its pre-Trump levels.)
Carlson has long been the most populist voice on Fox News. And he was the first Fox News personality to bring attention to the dangers of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, even going to Mar-a-Lago to speak with President Donald Trump in person about the pandemic. He said in his monologue that if Burr can’t explain his actions, “He must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”