Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Memo: Trump tries to steal Democrats’ thunder in Iowa Democrats make closing arguments to Iowa voters Trump mocks 2020 Democrats during Iowa campaign rally MORE (Mass.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senator to force vote requiring Roberts to weigh in on witnesses GOP predicts Roberts won’t cast tie-breaking vote on witnesses Democrats offer mixed reactions to Trump’s Mideast peace plan MORE (Md.) are calling for an investigation into whether any illegal trading in defense company stocks or commodities took place ahead of the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The demand for a federal inquiry comes in light of a Daily Beast report that President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Trump tries to steal Democrats’ thunder in Iowa Democrats make closing arguments to Iowa voters Alexander to vote no on witnesses, bringing trial close to end MORE gave guests at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida “advance knowledge” of potential military action.
In a letter to the chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the senators wrote that the report, if true, “raises a number of troubling national security questions regarding Trump’s handling of classified and other sensitive national security information.”
“It also means that individuals who were guests at President Trump’s resort may have obtained confidential market-moving information and had the opportunity to trade defense industry stocks or commodities or make other trades based on this information,” they wrote.
Earlier this month, Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport. According to The Daily Beast, in the five days leading up to the strike, Trump dropped hints to close associates and resort visitors that something significant was in the works.
Trump reportedly told friends that he was working on a “big” response to Iran and that they would hear or read about it soon. He said that he’d been in contact with national security and military officials.
Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, and Van Hollen noted that many Mar-a-Lago members and guests are people who have businesses that could be affected by Trump’s actions. They argued that these private individuals “would have had the opportunity to obtain significant profits simply by being guests or members at President Trump’s private resort.”
They also pointed to statistics showing that the stock prices for Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon increased before the announcement of the attack.
“We have no way of knowing which individuals received information from Trump in advance of the attack,” the senators wrote before asserting that any securities or commodities trades based on that knowledge would violate the Insider Trading Sanctions Act of 1984.
Warren and Van Hollen called on the SEC and CFTC to provide a briefing to the senators’ staffs by Feb. 13. They asked for the briefing to primarily focus on what information Trump provided to Mar-a-Lago members and guests before the Soleimani strike and whether any individuals made trades based on the information.
The SEC and CFTC declined to comment. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.