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Sen. Richard Burr to step down as Intelligence Committee chairman

NPR obtained a recording of Burr speaking on February 27 at a North Carolina state society event, in which he warned about the dangers the virus posed to the US at the same time that President Donald Trump was downplaying the risk of coronavirus. (Provided Photo/CNN)

 (CNN) — Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina is stepping aside as chairman of the influential Senate Intelligence Committee while he’s under investigation for stock trades he made ahead of the market downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Thursday that Burr “contacted me this morning to inform me of his decision to step aside as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee during the pendency of the investigation.”

“We agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee and will be effective at the end of the day tomorrow,” McConnell said.

The FBI served Burr with a search warrant and seized a cell phone belonging to the North Carolina Republican on Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported, as part of the FBI’s investigation into lawmaker stock trades.