Back in late October, during a heated debate, incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) was accused of being a “crook” by his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, for questionable stock trades Perdue made shortly after receiving a high-level briefing from the White House on the severe damage COVID-19 was expected to wreak on the United States, with Ossoff noting:
“It’s not just that you’re a crook, Senator. It’s that you’re attacking the health of the people that you represent. You did say Covid-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. All the while you were looking after your own assets and your own portfolio.”
Perdue has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, asserting that the stock trades were made on his behalf by a financial adviser without his knowledge, but it appears his trades were questionable enough to draw the interest of the Department of Justice, according to the New York Times:
“(The) transactions drew the attention this spring of investigators at the Justice Department, who were undertaking a broad review of the senator’s prolific trading around the outset of the coronavirus pandemic for possible evidence of insider trading, according to four people with knowledge of the case who described aspects of it on the condition of anonymity.”
Though the DOJ declined to bring charges against Perdue, the matter has larger implications as he seeks a second term in office with a cloud hanging over his head and a new administration on the way in, including a new attorney general who could reopen the matter and bring criminal charges if the evidence supports such a move.
All of this raises a thorny question for Perdue: With Donald Trump leaving office on January 20, 2021, does the senator from Georgia need a preemptive presidential pardon? And what would be the political ramifications of such a move?
Safe to say that if indeed Perdue does petition Trump for a pardon, that alone would be an admission of guilt and the kiss of death for his political career, even if he happens to win reelection when the Georgia runoff is held on January 5.
On the other hand, if Perdue decides to forego a pardon, he could be looking at criminal charges for insider trading and other financial crimes, which would make him a convicted felon and possibly send him to prison.
At the moment, Perdue is locked in a tight race with Ossoff, and he has steadfastly refused to debate his challenger again. But no matter what he says or does, David Perdue could be facing a world of hurt in the very near future. And no matter what he chooses to do, it appears he may be screwed either way.