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Republican Rep. Chris Collins plans to change his not guilty plea in his criminal insider-trading case, according to the Buffalo News, a major reversal for the embattled congressman. He’s now expected to plead guilty, several outlets have reported.
The congressman from New York was the first to back Trump during the 2016 GOP primaries and emerged as a major congressional power player during the early days of the Trump administration — before getting ensnared in a probe over his role on the board of an Australian biotech firm late last year, when he was charged with insider trading.
Collins allegedly alerted his son Cameron, also a major investor, that the company’s main experimental drug had failed its clinical trial in 2017. The younger Collins is accused of dumping his stocks before the information became public and the company’s stock price plunged. He also allegedly tipped off his fiancee’s father, also an investor, to do the same.
Collins and his son face multiple fraud charges, brought by federal prosecutors last fall. They’ve been fighting those charges in court but said they planned to change their pleas in court documents submitted Monday.
Collins was a close Trump ally and regularly served as a top defender of the president on cable news and the campaign trail. He was also a major player in the GOP’s efforts to repeal Obamacare and helped hammer out a deal that got some upstate New York Republicans on board to pass the legislation through the House. The congressman was even at the White House when he received news of the company’s clinical-trial failure and alerted his son, according to prosecutors.
That alleged move appears to have proved politically fatal.
Collins was stripped of his House committee assignments over the scandal last August and barely hung on to win re-election in his heavily Republican district last fall. With his planned change in plea, Collins appears to be leaving Congress soon — and a special election may be needed to fill his seat.
Cover image: U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters as he leaves the courthouse after a pretrial hearing in his insider-trading case, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)