When asked about Sen. Loeffler’s inclusion on the “Opening Up American Again” task force, Trump said he was unaware of the congresswoman’s stock sales, despite it being a widely reported story.
During his Sunday coronavirus daily briefing, President Trump pled ignorance of serious improprieties by a member of his “Opening Up America Again” task force, a panel of 97 senators and representatives handpicked to guide the economy and cushion the damage incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was named to the committee last week, sold off between $1.3 million and $3.1 million in stocks in 27 transactions between Jan. 24 and Feb. 14, according to reporting from the Daily Beast—before the public had a clue as to the economic freefall the outbreak was projected to cause.
She also reportedly sold $46,027 worth of stock in a travel company just days after purchasing it, and only one day before President Trump announced a ban on European travel to the United States March 11.
Loeffler has insisted all the trades were made by financial advisers who notified her after the fact and had no access to her classified information, but she and husband Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of Intercontinental Exchange—the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange—faced widespread criticism and allegations of insider trading, as did Loeffler’s fellow Republican, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina. Both are facing calls for their resignations.
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Loeffler rejected the criticism as a “socialist attack,” but cashed out her holdings in stock of individual companies so she and her husband “can’t be attacked for our success.”
“This gets at the very heart of why I came to Washington: to defend free enterprise, to defend capitalism,” she said.
The White House announced the panel Thursday. At Sunday’s coronavirus briefing, a reporter questioned her inclusion. Trump claimed he was unaware of the congresswoman’s stock sales, despite it being a widely reported story.
“That I don’t know. I really don’t know about that,” Trump said. “She’s a senator from Georgia and she was included in the list, absolutely.”
Loeffler was appointed to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down for health reasons, and is facing a tough special election in November. She would still have to win a January run-off to hold onto the senate seat.
Burr, who received secret briefings about the pandemic as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is under investigation by the Department of Justice for selling stocks while telling the public there was nothing to worry about. In mid-February, Burr sold between $628,033 and $1.7 million worth of stocks in a single day.
The charges may help scuttle GOP control of the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.