Several U.S. ambassadors actively shed their stock holdings as President Donald Trump tried to downplay the coronavirus outbreak in its early stages.
Ambassadors to Uruguay, France, Morocco and Italy sold shares in transactions that could have made them millions of dollars, according to financial disclosure filings reviewed by CNBC. Much of their sales were in January and continued throughout February, the records show. Their transactions line up with a timeline of federal and congressional announcements as the virus started sweeping across the globe earlier this year.
A State Department spokesman said that ambassadors were briefed in late February at the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference on the possible impacts the coronavirus could have on their operations but never were part of any other briefings this year. The spokesman also said the stock sales and purchases were often based on guidance from financial advisors.
“U.S. ambassadors were briefed on potential impacts of the Covid pandemic on State Department operations at the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference February 25-26, 2020,” the spokesman said on Thursday. “Otherwise, Ambassadors received no briefing on Covid from any U.S. government officials. These financial decisions were among a wide range of purchases and sales to adjust portfolios, often based on advice of financial advisors.”
NEW: In some cases, the ambassadors bought and sold stocks in companies involved with research or developing products that are linked to treating patients that have contracted the coronavirus, such as biopharmaceutical firms. https://t.co/oTwGmev2aY
— Brian Schwartz (@schwartzbCNBC) July 2, 2020