The Republican Congressman and Trump booster who was arrested yesterday for insider trading—and whose alleged fraud now seems to have been unintentionally captured on video—says that the charges are "meritless," and that he still intends to seek re-election in his Buffalo-area district come November.
"As I fight to clear my name, rest assured I will continue to work hard for the people and constituents of the 27th congressional district of New York and I will remain on the ballot running for re-election this November," U.S. Rep Chris Collins vowed in a statement released Wednesday night.
According to federal prosecutors, Collins engaged in $750,000 worth of securities fraud while serving on the board of the Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics. After Innate's CEO emailed Collins last year to inform him that the publicly traded company had failed a major drug test, the three-term Congressman allegedly tipped off his son Cameron, as well as several other co-conspirators, who promptly dumped their stocks in the company. When news of the failed drug test was publicly released later that month, shares in the company dropped 92 percent.
EXCLUSIVE: Footage shows New York Rep. Chris Collins on the phone at the White House's Congressional Picnic when he allegedly shared an illegal stock tip with his son. See our timeline of the case against him: https://t.co/ELIdmZdjTv pic.twitter.com/BAv1sZuzgt
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 8, 2018
Remarkably, Collins's initial criminal act appears to have been caught on video by CBS News. Their footage, taken during a congressional picnic at the White House, shows Collins making a phone call at 7:16 p.m. on June 22nd of last year—the very same moment that, according to the indictment, Collins dialed his son to tell him the "extremely bad news" about the drug's "clinical failure," as relayed to him by the company's CEO.
The perfect video also features a smiling Jared Kushner strolling around, and Instagram photos from the event show Collins—the first member of Congress to endorse Trump—posing next to several White House leaders, including the president and vice president. "We had a great time last night at the White House Congressional picnic, thanks for hosting @realdonaldtrump," Collins crowed on Instagram the following day.
"This has truly become, as you know, a wonderful tradition," the president said at the event., adding, "the White House picnic for us is always about family."