May 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday named Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio as the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, replacing Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who stepped down amid an FBI investigation into his stock trading.
Rubio has served for 10 years as a leading member on the Senate's Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, McConnell said.
"The senior senator for Florida is a talented and experienced Senate leader with expertise in foreign affairs and national security matters," McConnell said in a statement. " ...On subjects ranging from China and Russia to Iran and North Korea to tyranny and unrest in our own hemisphere, Senator Rubio has been on the case for years."
"I am grateful to Leader McConnell for his confidence in me to lead the Senate Intelligence Committee during Senator Burr's absence from the Chairmanship," Rubio, who ran against President Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP primary, said in a statement. "The Committee has long been one that conducts its work seriously, and I look forward to continuing that tradition."
The intelligence committee is finishing a three-year, bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Burr's last action as chairman Friday was to submit the fifth and final installment of the counterintelligence investigation for classification review.
Burr stepped down Thursday to avoid being a "distraction" while the FBI investigates the North Carolina senator for a mass selloff in stock at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
FBI agents seized Burr's cellphone and data from an online cloud account Thursday. Agents are probing whether Burr's selloff of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock could be considered insider trading, based on information received about COVID-19 in daily committee briefings.
Burr sold his stock about a week before the U.S. stock market began to see heavy losses related to the pandemic.