Justice Department drops insider trading investigations of three senators

The Justice Department has closed insider trading investigations into three senators who sold off stocks following early briefings on the coronavirus, aides told NBC News.

A spokesman for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., confirmed that she had been informed that the Justice Department had dropped an inquiry into her trades and called the allegations “politically motivated.”

“Today’s clear exoneration by the Department of Justice affirms what Senator Loeffler has said all along — she did nothing wrong. This was a politically-motivated attack shamelessly promoted by the fake news media and her political opponents. Senator Loeffler will continue to focus her full attention on delivering results for Georgians,” said the spokesman, Stephen Lawson.

A Democratic aide said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was informed that the Justice Department was dropping an inquiry over stock trades her husband made in the wake of her briefings.

A similar investigation into Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is also being dropped, according to a spokesman — but another one, involving Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., is continuing. The development was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

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Burr’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the Journal report.

Inhofe told The Oklahoman newspaper of Oklahoma City: “As I’ve said all along, I wasn’t even at the briefing and do not make my own stock trades. I did nothing wrong, and I’m pleased the Justice Department has exonerated me.”

Burr temporarily stepped aside as chairman of the Intelligence Committee this month after the FBI seized his cellphone as part of its investigation into his trades.

Unlike the other senators, Burr has acknowledged directing his trades himself. He maintained that he didn’t use inside information, and he said in March that he “relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on February 13.”

Loeffler said after the trades were disclosed that she’d been unaware of the transactions when they were made.

“I had no involvement in these decisions. I don’t have conversations with them about any of this, and so this is a very third-party relationship that many people are familiar with,” she told CNBC in March.

A spokesman for Feinstein told NBC News at the time her husband’s trades were disclosed that she “did not sell any stock.”

“All of Senator Feinstein’s assets are in a blind trust, as they have been since she came to the Senate,” the spokesman said. “She has no involvement in any of her husband’s financial decisions.”

Inhofe said at the time that “I do not have any involvement in my investment decisions.”

“In December 2018, shortly after becoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I instructed my financial advisor to move me out of all stocks and into mutual funds to avoid any appearance of controversy. My advisor has been doing so faithfully since that time and I am not aware of or consulted about any transactions,” Inhofe said in a statement.

*story by NBC News