Where Things Stand: DOJ Digs In

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WASHINGTON, DC -JANUARY 30:Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) talks with reporters as he heads to the Senate Chambers January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senators spend a second day asking both the House prosecutors and President Trump's defense team questions during the Senate impeachment trial.(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
WASHINGTON, DC -JANUARY 30: Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) talks with reporters as he heads to the Senate Chambers January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senators spend a second day asking both the House prosecutors and Pr... WASHINGTON, DC -JANUARY 30: Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) talks with reporters as he heads to the Senate Chambers January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senators spend a second day asking both the House prosecutors and President Trump's defense team questions during the Senate impeachment trial. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 30, 2020 12:05 p.m.
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While it’s in the preliminary stages of it’s investigation, the Justice Department is now looking into sketchy stock market transactions that at least two lawmakers made after receiving private briefings on the COVID-19 outbreak.

CNN was first to report on the DOJ’s probe, which is being done with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee chair, has been contacted about his dealings ahead of a dramatic stock market downturn in February.

Burr has maintained that he relied solely on publicly available information to make the trades and he’s asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the deals as well.  It’s unclear if the DOJ’s probe will also include transactions made by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who sold stocks the same day as a Senate briefing on the COVID-19 spread in January.

Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Josh Kovensky is working on a story about a nursing home in NOLA that was hit particularly hard by the virus.

Kate Riga is covering a bit of news from last night’s White House press briefing, in which the White House said it had tested 890,000 Americans for the virus, despite promising to test far more weeks ago.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

President Trump appeared for an interview on “Fox and Friends” this morning in which he acknowledged he would rely solely on “experts” from now on while he makes social distancing policies. He also admitted that voting reforms initially included in the COVID-19 stimulus bill would endanger Republicans reelection prospects.

Our team is also covering the language the White House is now using to discuss COVID-19 fatalities. As White House health experts project that the amount of deaths in the U.S. will likely reach the 100,000 to 200,000 range, Trump has seized on the number as a metric for success. We’ll keep an eye on this messaging.

Today’s Rundown

1:00 p.m. ET: Trump will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

5:00 p.m. ET: The White House will hold it’s coronavirus task force briefing.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Ron DeSantis Previews The Trumpist Line On Who’s To Blame For COVID-19 — Josh Marshall

What We Are Reading

Facebook Pledges $100 Million To Aid News Outlets Hit Hard By Pandemic — David Folkenflik

If You’ve Run Out Of Toilet Paper, Woody Allen’s Memoir Is Also Made Of Paper — Monica Hesse 

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
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