Two Republican senators faced calls to resign yesterday over media reports that they sold substantial amounts of stock ahead of the global coronavirus-induced market meltdown after receiving private briefings on the outbreak.
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.7m (€1.6m) worth of stock on February 13, in 33 separate transactions, after offering public assurances the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, according to non-profit investigative journalism group ProPublica.
Mr Burr's committee has been receiving daily updates on the outbreak.
Two weeks after the stock sale, the North Carolina Republican told a luncheon on Capitol Hill the virus was more aggressive in its transmission "than anything we have seen in recent history", according to a recording obtained by National Public Radio.
The comments predated Wall Street's massive sell-off.
Burr's office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler sold $1.28m to $3.1m (€2.9m) in stocks from January 24 through mid-February in 29 transactions, two of which were purchases, according to 'The Daily Beast'. The report said the sales began on the day her health committee hosted a private coronavirus briefing for senators.
Ms Loeffler wrote on Twitter that she was informed of the transactions three weeks after they occurred.
"This is a ridiculous and baseless attack. I do not make investment decisions for my portfolio," she said.
But by early Friday, critics on both ends of the political spectrum were calling on both lawmakers to consider resigning.