A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to release a significantly less redacted version of the 2020 search warrant issued to confiscate North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s cellphone as part of an investigation into the Republican legislature’s stock dealings at the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Los Angeles Times, which had requested the court to release the document, had pushed for more information after the department released a heavily redacted search warrant and an accompanying affidavit in June, by order of the court. The affidavit gave little insight into the evidence the FBI collected and used to get a federal judge’s permission to seize the phone.
Justice Department attorneys argued in court filings that much of the information should remain redacted, in part because it contains “extensive details of interviews with private third-party witnesses whose role in the investigation is not public knowledge.”
But Chief US District Judge Beryl Howell on Monday ordered the Justice Department to submit a new redacted version of the warrant by September 5. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia declined to comment.
The Times first reported in May 2020 that federal agents, relying on a search warrant, were seeking $1.65 million as part of their investigation into whether Burr, who is not running for re-election, illegally used information from congressional briefings about the coronavirus for sale, Burr’s phone had received stock just before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Burr was never charged with any trafficking-related crimes. The Justice Department confirmed in its June court filings that it dropped those investigations in January 2021. A month later, The Times filed their lawsuit, arguing that the recordings should be made public.
Several senators, including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, were being investigated by the Justice Department for possible violations of Congress’ insider trading rules for selling or buying stocks early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Burr was the only case where warrants were obtained. All investigations were dropped without charge.
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-08-29/doj-ordered-to-release-more-details-in-burr-warrant DOJ ordered to release more details of Richard Burr warrant