Maria Butina sidled up to Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne as part of a Russian "honeypot" scheme. Rather than admit it, Byrne went on a rant about the deep state. Now he's out of the company he founded.
August 22, 2019

Maria Butina sidled up to CEO Patrick Byrne as part of a Russian "honeypot" scheme. Rather than admit it, Byrne went on a rant about the deep state. Now he's out of the company he founded, resigning his position on the board and also as chief executive.

It all begins with Maria Butina and Byrne's tendency toward paranoid right-wing behavior, as NBC reporter Ben Collins reports above.

Byrne was involved with Butina from 2015 to 2018, on and off in what is widely understood to be a Russian "honey pot" operation involving several Americans. Collins reports:

[Butina] ingratiated herself into the American right. They were trying to get into the GOP as a Russian spy basically. That is the easiest way to say this. And the way she did it was she went through the NRA and befriended this NRA hanger-on named Paul Erickson and eventually it became a full-on relationship.

In the midst of that she was apparently in this other relationship on and off with the Overstock CEO. Instead of sort of realizing this was a honeypot the Overstock CEO doubled down on this in a blog post before a New York Times article came out saying they were in this relationship and he cites what I would say is conspiracy theory gristle that's been around the internet the past year and a half. Things about the deep state. Things about how this the Clinton investigation and all about the Mueller investigation.

Indeed, Overstock published Byrne's claims in an official statement on August 12th:

“Sara Carter has published two articles relating the following claims of mine:

Starting in 2015 I (operating under the belief that I was helping legitimate law enforcement efforts) assisted in what are now known as the ‘Clinton Investigation’ and the ‘Russian Investigation’ (in fact, I am the notorious ‘missing Chapter 1’ of the Russian investigation). It was the third time in my life I helped the Men in Black: the first was when my friend Brian Williams was murdered, and the second was when I helped the M.I.B. shake up Wall Street a decade ago. Unfortunately, this third time turned out to be less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and to a lesser degree, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz).

In July 2018 I put the pieces together. I immediately (last July) came forward to a Congressman and a senior military officer, to the Department of Justice this April, and (upon my Omaha Rabbi reminding me of my duty as a citizen late this June) to a small set of journalists this summer. Ms. Carter was among them. Her two stories are accurate.

Having confirmed Ms. Carter’s two articles, I have fulfilled those citizenship obligations of which my Rabbi reminded me. I will speak no more on the subject. Instead, having lived in places lacking Rule of Law and having witnessed the consequences of its absence, I plan on sitting back and watching the United States Department of Justice re-establish Rule of Law in our country.”

Since that statement was published, stock tanked, losing around 40 percent of its value. So today, Byrne resigned, with a "sorry not sorry" statement.

“In July I came forward to a small set of journalists regarding my involvement in certain government matters. Doing so was not my first choice, but I was reminded of the damage done to our nation for three years and felt my duty as a citizen precluded me from staying silent any longer,” Byrne wrote. “Though patriotic Americans are writing me in support, my presence may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business.”

“Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member, effective Thursday August 22,” he added.

Don't cry for Byrne. I'm sure this gives one more tech bro some free time to organize incels, QAnons, or invent entirely new red pill conspiracy theories to hype up white dudes with too much time on their hands.

UPDATE: Byrne is on Fox News making outlandish claims about being some sort of citizen spy:

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