Overstock CEO and Founder Patrick Byrne announced he was stepping down after being involved in what he calls an act of “political espionage” by our own government agencies.
In a letter to shareholders announcing his resignation, Byrne said that “Coming forward publicly about my involvement in other matters was hardly my first choice,” but he could not longer sit by and watch “[his] country pull itself apart”.
“My Rabbi made me see that “coming forward” meant telling the public (not just the government) the truth,” he continued. “I now plan on leaving things to the esteemed Department of Justice (which I have doubtless already angered enough by going public) and disappearing for some time.”
Within the last week, Byrne has made a few television appearances where he has revealed some incredible information. For instance, Byrne stated that years ago he had been contacted by the FBI’s Peter Strzock. The same Peter Strzock who had sent text messages about stopping Donald Trump from becoming president.
“I was given a one billion dollar bribe to keep quiet,” Byrne said on FOX Business last week. “For three years I have watched my country pull itself apart while I knew many answers, and I set my red line at seeing civil violence breaking out.”
Here is Byrne’s interview with FOX Business:
Exactly how did he make his fortune? From Business Insider: Byrne grew up around big business, as his insurance executive father’s banner career attracted high-profile associates like billionaire Warren Buffett, who called the elder Byrne “the Babe Ruth of insurance” and was a regular houseguest.
He studied philosophy and Asian studies at Dartmouth before pursuing a graduate degree in mathematical logic from Stanford University while bedridden, fighting testicular cancer. He went on to study at Cambridge University and pursue a philosophy doctorate from Stanford.
In the late 1980s, Byrne took aim at run-down hotels, casinos, strip malls, office space and apartment buildings across the country, which he invested in and developed for huge profits.
In 1997, Byrne joined a Berkshire Hathaway-backed company that made uniforms for police, firemen, and military. By 1999, he saw an opportunity for profits by selling leftover inventory online.
Through his investment holding company, Byrne shelled out $7 million for the majority stake in D2-Discounts Direct, which he renamed Overstock.
Under its ambitious leader, Overstock emerged as an innovative powerhouse in e-commerce. However, trouble arose years later when it was later overshadowed by competitors like Amazon and Wayfair.
Here is a full transcript of Byrnes’ appearance on FOX News’ “The Story”:
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: So, here now, as we said, in a “Story” exclusive tonight, is Patrick Byrne, the now former CEO of Overstock.com.
Patrick, thank you very much for being with us tonight to talk about your story.
PATRICK BYRNE, FORMER OVERSTOCK CEO: It’s an honor to be on. There is some confusion wrapped up and I believe you just heard from (inaudible) but we’ll unscramble it.
MACCALLUM: OK. Yes, we will unscramble it to be sure.
So, you know, first of all, I know that you — obviously, you left your company today. It’s a company that you built through your own, you know, sweat and grit over all of those years, a very successful business.
Your thoughts quickly about the company?
BYRNE: The company is in a great position. We have two sides to it. We have the retail business. We also have a network of Blockchain companies that I think can change the world.
And for example, with something called — if you are into Blockchain, there’s a killer app called Security Tokens. We have a tZERO that is leading that. We have all these great Blockchain companies.
And our retail business, we turned a positive, in the black EBITDA in the second quarter. So, everything is in a great situation.
BRYNE: I have to get away for the retail company based on what I think is going on.
MACCALLUM: OK. So — so, obviously, you stepped away from your company, you say, for the good of the company and the good of the country.
MACCALLUM: You say that you got tangled up in the deep state investigation into President Trump. Tell me how — how did all of this start?
BYRNE: Let me give you the bottom line up front. So, listen, I’m a — I’m a hippie. I have nothing to do with the feds. I’m a flag-waving hippie.
Twice in my life, I had the honor of helping them. A friend of mine named Brian Williams (ph) was murdered 17 years ago. I helped them bring the murderer to justice.
And I helped them fight Wall Street about 12 years ago. I was kind of a one-man Occupy Wall Street. In ’05, ’06, the feds showed up and it was my honor to help them take down a couple hundred people on Wall Street.
BYRNE: So that’s that. Let me jump to the bottom line and this I’ve learned is the quickest way to explain it.
In 2015, 2016, they got back in touch with me, the third time, and it was — I was given some fishy orders. And I carried them out thinking — in 2015-2016, thinking I was conducting law enforcement. Let me emphasize, don’t say the FBI. The FBI is barely involved in this. It’s all at the top.
The “men in black,” as I called them, showed up and asked for this third favor. And I — well, anyway, I’m not going to go into the details right now, but I didn’t know who sent the orders, but I did them last — they seemed fishy, last summer watching television and here’s the punch line — here’s the punch line, people, last summer watching television and some congressional hearings, I figured out where those orders came from. It came from a guy named Peter Strzok.
And well, three staff (ph) — Carlin, McCabe, Comey, that was who sent the orders. And …
MACCALLUM: Well, you’re naming a bunch of FBI people there.
BYRNE: Well, the — Peter Strzok, and it’s been confirmed to me that my instructions came from Peter Strzok, that the people who carried me orders were coming ..
BYRNE: .. or on behalf.
MACCALLUM: So, you — you had helped the government a couple of times. They reached out to you. What did they ask you to do?
BYRNE: I don’t want to go into the nitty-gritty right now. Well, the nitty-gritty, I can tell you the main event. And I feel terrible. I’ve been watching for three years, and our country is coming apart, and people are killing each other.
And I finally went to see Buffett. And Buffett — Buffet and I — Buffett is kind of my rabbi, I call him. And — and he said, Patrick, you have to come forward. And I said, you know, it’s going to make some feds furious at me, their heads are going to explode. And he said, you let the feds do their job, you’re a citizen, you got your job, you’re coming to the public.
Here’s what it is. This was all political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump. This is not a theory of mine — some political theory. I was in the room when it happened in a way. I mean, not in a way. I was part of it.
I didn’t know — I knew I had some of the pieces. I thought I had the pieces of something much bigger. Last summer, as stuff bubbled into the news, thanks to good journalists such as yourself, I started realizing I had these very important missing pieces. I actually started coming — trying to help them, but I had to wait until there was a return to the rule of law in our country.
And I’ve lived in place where (INAUDIBLE) — that took waiting until Bill Barr got installed. And then — I don’t know the guy, I’ve never shaken hands or anything, but only then did I trust things enough and I went to the Department of Justice and started to explain ..
MACCALLUM: And you told them what you know.
BYRNE: Of what I know.
MACCALLUM: Yes. And, you know, and it’s my understanding that — that — you know I should just point this out because some people might be listening and saying, you know, well, how credible is this? And, you know, we — we did some asking around and, you know, we have basically had the indications that, you know, there’s every reason to believe that what you — that your story is indeed credible. So ..
BYRNE: I’m not in the — I’m not in the convincing business. I’m in the business of, I’m opening the door and letting the world open …
MACCALLUM: But let me go back to the basics because this is what everybody is saying at home, it’s what everyone is saying at home. What did they tell you to do? What did they ask you to do, Patrick?
BYRNE: There was — well, some of it involved this young lady Maria Butina who came here — so, I’ve — so, some of it involved her.
BYRNE: Some of it involved setting up Hillary Clinton for what looked like — and — looked like law enforcement, it was actually setting her up to be blackmailed. I had helped them set up Hillary Clinton to be blackmailed.
MACCALLUM: What was the nature of the blackmail?
BYRNE: I can’t go into it. And so I’ve already — I’m sure there’s a bunch of people in Washington who are going to rip me apart, and I have actually been warned. I was warned last October from a friendly person — Patrick, if you come forward, this entire town of Washington is going to destroy you. It’s going to turn you into dust.
MACCALLUM: Well, and, you know, I give you a lot of credit because I know that you said that you did some soul-searching over the summer and you, you know, talked to good friends and you mentioned one of them a moment ago.
What was the nature of your relationship with Maria Butina? Did you reach out to you? Or did you reach out to her? And — and how involved were you? Did you have an affair with her for three years? Or what was the nature of your relationship?
BYRNE: You’ve seen the video, I bet you’ve played it, were candidate Trump is at a conference …
BYRNE: … and this young lady (ph) stands up and asks a question.
MACCALLUM: Asked the question, sure.
BYRNE: If you go and look up that conference which was a 2015 conference in Las Vegas — I’m a small L libertarian, a small R Republican. I don’t identify as a Republican, I’m a — but I get asked to speak at sort of freedom oriented conferences like that and I did and I was at that conference.
And after I spoke, she actually came up to me and talked about guns. Well, and some gun rights thing in Florida, and the first time, I brushed her off, I’m not into guns. I’m not — everybody should have one but I’m not into them. I don’t fetishize them or anything like Republicans but — often do.
But then she came up the next day and said, I’m really here — look, I’m really here — I’ve been sent from Russia to make contact with you. There’s some people in Russia who want to talk to you, they know about you and your relationship with Milton Friedman. Believe it or not, there are people like this in Russia. There are liberals.
Anyway, she had this whole story. I don’t want to get into here — I’ll put it up on a website called Deep Capture, which is where I used to write to the world. But I’ll go into the all — I don’t want to go into the where on the doll did you touch her stuff.
We had — we had an intellectual relationship. I was given a green light to meet her again. She turned that into a physical relationship, I don’t mean to — not that I’m unwitting (ph) or unwilling, but — so we dated for about six months.
I was trying to enter her in to some senior foreign policy thinkers, because of some things I used to do involving law enforcement and taking down Wall Street, I used to have very low, low level security clearance.
And when you get that, you sign a piece of paper that says, when a gal comes up to you from Russia and says, listen, I’ve been sent here to make contact with you, and we want to take you to Moscow and want you to speak on bitcoin and speak on liberalism, at the central bank and then we want other — you have to report that.
I reported that and sent that to my clearance authority, and which she’s kind of — you know, I talk to them once every three years if something like that happen.
And before I know it, the men in black are back of my life and I was trying to encourage her to have a relationship and she wanted to be a back channel for peace. I could have open some doors, but I didn’t want to do that until I had — until I had some green light.
And after a couple months, I don’t — I was given the green light. That turned romantic. I was bothered — I’ll tell you something that — I mean, I’ll tell you some really deep stuff. I was by — I was two-thirds judging it as an opportunity for something good, something to move the ball of peace down the field a bit. One-third of it was a risk.
As those — I know she was dating or living with some — some Republican bigwigs and stuff. So, my idea (ph) — I just said, I’m — I’m a 56-year-old bachelor. I said, you just — every six weeks or so, when you want to see some place, give me a call and we’ll meet there.
But I was trying to enter (ph) her in and maybe something peaceful could happen. But I had sort of a third — maybe two-thirds I was positive, one-third this is quite a risk and especially over those — from July of 2015 to March of 2016 as I — she — she clearly was swanking around more and more in big shot Republican circles, including — including people like Don Jr.
I was telling her that the men in black had all of those meetings before she had them, they knew about her the day she landed. They knew about every one of these meetings. They knew that at one point, she was going off to have a meeting with Don Jr.
I don’t know. And listen, I didn’t vote for Trump. I’m not a never Trumper. I have — he won fair and square and that’s …
MACCALLUM: So, do you think she was set up by the men in black to approach people in the Trump administration? Is that possibility?
BYRNE: It was all a — 100 percent. They knew she was trying to approach, and her instructions were, to approach — she had to build a contact with anyone in the Hillary Clinton, Rubio, Cruz, or Trump.
And they knew that because she told me and I let them know. And they let — it all happened. I could have told you in December of 2015, I had a suspicion forming in my mind — It was really quite strange, because she had initially checked off — she doesn’t like, she’s — Democrats, she is much more of Republican and a much more of small L liberation — she’s a Milton Friedman fan. I’m a Milton Friedman guy.
So, once she checked off having met somebody in Clinton — I don’t know who — and she was telling me all this. She was just going to focus on Cruz, Rubio, and Trump. At that point, the interest of — and the United States government in doing anything about this went to zero.
It became like this even to the point I was telling them things like, look, she’s telling me that in a manner of weeks, she’s going to be at some conference of — of conservatives and Donald Trump is going to be taken down and out the back door of his hotel and be taken to meet her and this and that, what do you want me to do? Can I — let me take her off for a trip and swish her away to the Bahamas or what do you want.
BYRNE: And they said, no, we’re going to let it all happen. 100 percent
MACCALLUM: So, do you believe that — do you believe they — that she was working for them, for these men in suits in the United States or that she was working for the Russian government or some combination?
BYRNE: No, no, no, I’m not going into that. I’m not going into that. It’s — she wasn’t working for the men in suits here.
Listen, here’s the other main event. It’s horrible to even say the initials FBI involved in this. It wasn’t the FBI. The FBI got hijacked from the top. It’s the top. It’s …
MACCALLUM: Well, you talked about Comey. You talked about Brennan, Clapper. So, you’re talking about the CIA?
BYRNE: I’m talking about — I have made — well, I have said there’s three officials whose names were used with me. X, Y, and Z, I’m not going to say on your show, the feds all have this. I’m sorry, the legitimate feds all have this as of April. There were three names used at the — three senior officials.
BYRNE: They were behind all of this.
And the FBI was out of it. The FBI, they delivered the message. And let me — and then there was another period where they — so then they told me to break up with her, I was stage four and stuff, they came back and this time they specifically said, we need you to conduct a romantic — rekindle your romantic relationship and the orders are coming from X, Y, Z. And they felt horrible.
I want to be clear. These are men and women of honor and I think those are illegal orders. And I — they made very clear to me, you do not have to take these. You did not have to help. I think they didn’t want me to, but they felt terrible.
MACCALLUM: When you say all the way up, you’re talking — what do you mean? The White House? The CIA?
BYRNE: I think — I know the names …
MACCALLUM: Or are you talking about entities that were separate from these? Look, when you say it wasn’t the FBI, but you say it was Peter Strzok, are you sort of carving him out as being part of a separate operations, separate from the FBI?
BYRNE: No, no, I’m just — forget Strzok for a moment. I — the X, Y, Z are actual human beings whose names you know who were in the Obama administration. Guys like Strzok and stuff are the errand boys. They are the clerks who sent the messages for some …
MACCALLUM: Is it John Brennan? Is it James Clapper? Is it Comey?
BYRNE: General Barr — General Barr has that information and …
BYRNE: And I think — I think — they are over there I’m sure furious. I’ve way overstepped the lines.
MACCALLUM: All right. I understand.
BYRNE: Don’t reveal it here. Don’t reveal it here.
MACCALLUM: OK, you know, I’m asking questions because that’s– that’s my job, and you can answer them, you know, to do whatever extent you feel comfortable.
BYRNE: Yes, fair enough.
MACCALLUM: And I understand that.
But, you know, when you said that you realized last summer that it was Peter Strzok that had contacted you, and, you know, you’ve talked about — you know, having discussions about Maria Butina, what — you said that something — did something make you uncomfortable that they ask you to do? And is that why you, you know, sort of said, uh-uh, I’m out?
BYRNE: No, it didn’t work that way.
BYRNE: You know, I’m going to — I will write up an explanation over this and people can read it so it’s clear.
BYRNE: It was — what was making me uncomfortable was two things. That I was — you know, I originally said, hey, this — two-thirds an opportunity and something, — she is very well-connected in Russia.
Let me introduce her to some people in our — in our foreign policy think tank establishment and would that be OK? One-third — you know, she wanted to talk about John Stuart Mill and Erasmus and the Greeks — I mean, she’s a real intellectual.
But I had this concern about the risk that there was some — some mischief afoot. And she was here doing what — well, as those first six months wore on, that — that risk profile shifted and she stopped talking so much about John Stuart Mill and John Rawls and Milton Friedman, she started talking about all these Republican bigwigs she’s swanking around with.
I could have told you, I’m looking for a prop. I could have told you, in December of 2015, I was forming this thought. It’s starting to seem what they’re doing is now that they know she is here, just swimming around with Republicans, it starting to seem like what they are doing is letting this kind of (ph) scandal develop on the Republicans and some day, they’re going to pick it up and shake it, crack it and the spray it on Republicans.
Nah, no way, no way with James Comey. No way would President Obama ever do something like that.
Well that’s literally what — and I’m not saying President Obama was involved. Don’t make any assumptions about who X, Y, and Z are. Those are all up to the DOJ involved.
But I literally — I could have told you in December 2015 which I will note is seven months before the official start of the investigation …
BYRNE: … that I had already picked — I was already hypothesizing this is starting to seem like they are deliberately letting this grenade develop on the Republicans. Are they just going to pull the pin on it someday?
MACCALLUM: I hear you.
BYRNE: I could’ve — you know …
MACCALLUM: Was there anything that you witnessed that — you know, or were you ever told to stand down, you know? To back off? Is that what you were referring to a little while ago, or is that something different?
BYRNE: No, in — in March 2016, I was — she asked me over to Russia to give a speech. Her goal was to get me to Moscow to give a talk at the central bank on bitcoin and liberalism.
And then to take me to a resort in the Altai Mountains that was going to be shut down for three days so that 40, 45 people would get together, from the oligarchs and governments, and their liberals, and we’re going to spend three days talking about liberalism and also — anyway, this is — this was the offer and she had been sent by them to come to get me to come back and do this.
BYRNE: When she asked me in March to come over again, she was saying speak in St. Petersburg on Blockchain and I think that we can change the world and eliminate poverty and stuff with Blockchain. Come speak, Putin is going to be there. It’s been arranged. You’re going to have 60 minutes alone with Putin, and this would be great.
At that point, I was told to break up with her and get her out of your life. And I worked on something else involving corruption of the federal official.
BRYNE: When that, what — OK.
MACCALLUM: No, go ahead, when that.
BYRNE: When that matter involving the corruption of the federal official was complete, it ended in an odd way that sounded fishy. It ended in an odd way that was very fishy, and again, the details are all in the Department of Justice.
But it was involved in a corruption of a federal official and it ended in a way that smelled like a skunk at which point when they came back around July 1st of 2016, which is to say a few weeks before the Republican convention.
BYRNE: But about the time that Trump became the …
BYRNE: Presumptive nominee, not a nominee.
BYRNE: They came back and said, boy, did we make a mistake. Russia, Russia, Russia, we need to do it.
I want to be clear they said this. They said the United States never, never asked this of somebody, never asked a citizen to conduct a romantic relationship or in order to get information. This is such a national security emergency. We need to ask you to do this if you are willing and the orders come from X, Y, Z.
We want to be clear, Patrick, you are absolutely in your rights to refuse this. You have no obligation to, we never — in all our careers we never heard of an American citizen being asked to sleep with someone in order to get information and such. I want to be clear about something. And so, then I conducted for the following seven months, I — to all intents and purposes, conducted another romance. That entire time, I was lying to the federal government.
I put on a show, I was flying her, wining and dining her, that second time I spent time with her, I created that impression deliberately that I was complying with the request and being romantic, while I was actually doing, and she has confirmed this I understand from a prison cell — she has no — you know, she could have every right to hate me. I understand she has confirmed to journalists I was a total gentleman.
Anyone observing and surveilling would have thought that we were deeply in love. I never laid a finger on her because I knew it would disgrace our country and it would disgrace Maria, and that entire period I was being instructed to romance her, I created the impression and it was all a lie. And I did that at the same time, I set up X, Y, Z for some felony charges.
MACCALLUM: OK. I just have two quick questions for you. One is, what made you realize last summer the person who was contacting was Peter Strzok?
BYRNE: Well, he wasn’t contacting me. Let me be clear.
BYRNE: Some people showed up and these instructions come and this request comes — it was things — because I had been involved, I deliberately kept once this Russia scandal started, believe it or not, I didn’t — I tried as much as I could not to follow it, because I wanted to keep own my mind clear for when investigators show up. And we should talk about that, too.
But when the investigators showed up, so my mind would be clear. So, I really tried not to follow it, as hard as I could. By last May or June, I mean, it became impossible, I felt awful because I knew I had these very important pieces.
I actually went to see a lawyer, and the lawyer who is a big Republican lawyer, he was all excited. I’m going to — I said I need to come forward, somebody help me and heard about 5 minutes of my story and he said, Patrick, you’re going to go home and you’re going to keep your mouth shut. You’re going to go to prison for the rest of your life if you come forward.
But the next month, I was watching Strzok — I was watching the congressional hearing ripping these guys apart that there were little details that were said that made me realize, holy cow, this guy Peter Strzok is the guy who sent these instructions and its little details within the things that were said — and they have since confirmed to me, more recently I guess you are correct in what you figured out.
MACCALLUM: All right. Last question, what do you say to folks who watch this and they say, you know, he’s spinning a yarn?
BYRNE: Yes, listen. I’ve put everything on the line, I was warned that I’m going to be destroyed by this, that all of Washington is going to try to grind me into dust. I had to eject from the company. I had to eject. I can’t bring that on the company.
If you want to help me, you — anyway, you go buy your daughter a pillow at overstock.com. The entirety of Washington is going to come down on me and try to destroy me. So, I had to get out of the way. That’s what’s happened. And —
MACCALLUM: No doubt. Peter Strzok would watch this and say, you know, he’s full of it. I had nothing to do with anything that he’s talking about. I would imagine.
BYRNE: I can — he won’t. I can tell you, Peter Strzok — you want to see a former director crap his pants? Pardon me. Go stick a television camera on Peter Strzok, or let’s just say James Comey, and say the name Patrick Byrne. You will see a former director of the FBI crap his pants.
MACCALLUM: All right. Well, we — we thank you for coming here tonight and telling your story, and we’ll obviously follow it as it moves forward and done.
Thank you very much.
BYRNE: Shop Overstock. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Patrick Byrne, joining us tonight. Good to see you, sir.