Burr steps down as Senate Intelligence Committee chair

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., arrives at a Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing, Tuesday, May 12, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is to testify before the committee. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., arrives at a Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing, Tuesday, May 12, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is to testify before the committee. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP) WIN MCNAMEE AP

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) announced Thursday that he was temporarily stepping down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee while the FBI investigates his sale of stocks just before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., sending shares plummeting.

Burr, who had received classified briefings before he sold up to $1.7 million in stocks, said he wanted to prevent his situation from becoming “a distraction to a committee that’s extremely important to the safety and security of the American people.”

The decision came a day after the FBI raided Burr’s Washington, D.C., area home and seized his cellphone.

The FBI declined to comment, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he and Burr had agreed that it “would be in the best interest of the committee” for him to step aside starting Friday.

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