Politics

GOP Rep. Chris Collins submits resignation ahead of plea change in insider trading case

Key Points
  • Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., submitted his resignation from Congress on the eve of his scheduled change-of-plea hearing in an ongoing federal insider trading case, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNBC on Monday.
  • Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, D-Calif., said that the speaker's office is "in receipt of a letter of resignation" that "will be laid down on the House Floor tomorrow" during a pro forma session in the chamber.
  • Collins is accused of calling his son from the White House lawn to share information about a failed drug trial for a company in which he was heavily invested. He and others allegedly sold their stock before the trial results became public.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., submitted his resignation from Congress on the eve of his scheduled change-of-plea hearing in an ongoing federal insider trading case, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNBC on Monday.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, D-Calif., said that the speaker's office is "in receipt of a letter of resignation" that "will be laid down on the House Floor tomorrow" during a 9 a.m. pro forma session in the chamber.

"Resignation will be effective at that time," Hammill said.

A spokeswoman for Collins' congressional office did not respond to CNBC's requests for comment.

Collins' resignation letter to Pelosi, provided to CNBC by a person familiar with the matter, reads: "I hereby submit my resignation effective immediately, September 30, 2019, as United States Representative of the 27th District of New York. Attached is the letter I submitted to Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York."

Collins' decision to vacate his seat in Congress came just hours after court documents revealed that the House Republican — who was the first member to support President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign — was set to change his plea in the insider trading case that has dogged him for over a year.

Both actions show a remarkable pivot from just a few weeks earlier, when Collins appeared to be gearing up for fights in both the legal and political arenas.

Collins, 69, pleaded not guilty after he was arrested in August 2018 on charges that he shared private information related to Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics, where he served as a board member.

He is accused of calling his son, Cameron Collins, in a panic from the White House lawn to share information about a failed drug trial. He and others then allegedly sold their stock based on that tip before the trial results became public.

Cameron, and the father of his fiancee, Stephen Zarsky, are also charged in the case.

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In mid-September, all three men once again pleaded not guilty to a slightly revised indictment, cutting references that Collins "contends (or could contend) is protected by the Speech and Debate Clause" of the U.S. Constitution, according to a letter from federal prosecutors.

That plea came a few months after Collins reportedly dumped $500,000 of his own money into his campaign fund, which was seen as a signal that the Republican would be running for reelection.

But Collins has now resigned his seat, and he is expected to plead guilty Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

Collins' change-of-plea hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. before federal Judge Vernon Broderick. Another hearing for Zarsky and Cameron Collins is set for 2 p.m. Thursday.

Broderick had scheduled Collins' trial to start in February.

The departure in the 27th District, which had voted more solidly for Trump in 2016 than anywhere else in New York, sets up a special election for the remainder of Collins' term.

Collins was able to win his reelection bid in 2018, despite being arrested and briefly suspending his campaign.

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