Overstock founder and CEO Patrick Byrne decided to go public this week with information “about political espionage” in the 2016 election that he thinks will be “the biggest scandal in American history.” The businessman said that he had gone to his mentor Warren Buffet for advice and that Buffet had advised him to come forward. What Byrne proceeded to allege in his 22-minute interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum was his shady work as an informant for the FBI in 2015 and 2016.
“It’s going to make some feds furious at me,” Byrne told MacCallum Thursday night. “Their heads are going to explode.” Byrne also claimed that former FBI director James Comey will “crap his pants” when he finds out that he has spilled the beans about the FBI’s election-year espionage activities to the Department of Justice.
The business executive said that he didn’t feel like it was safe to come out until the “rule of law” had returned to the country, explaining that he trusted Attorney General William Barr to set things right.
Byrne, who resigned as the CEO of Overstock.com Thursday after 20 years with the company, told MacCallum that he has given U.S. Attorney John Durham all the information he has about his involvement in the FBI’s election-year shenanigans, including “fishy” orders from former FBI agent Peter Strzok.
“I didn’t know who sent the orders, but I did them. Last summer, watching television and some congressional hearings, I figured out where these orders came from. They came from a guy named Peter Strzok,” Byrne explained.
Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation in July of 2017 when anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with his mistress, Lisa Page, surfaced. He was fired from the FBI in August of 2018. Earlier this month, Strzok filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the FBI and the DOJ in federal court.
Last month, Byrne disclosed for the first time his relationship with Maria Butina, the Russian citizen who was convicted of crimes related to the 2016 election. He said his instructions from Strzok involved maintaining a relationship with Butina. “I feel terrible,” he said.
“Here’s what it is. This was all political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump,” he said, stressing that this wasn’t a theory, but the absolute truth. “I was part of it,” he explained.
MacCallum, at this point, noted that Fox News had vetted Byrne’s story with various experts who told them that his story was credible.
Bryne said that his mission involved Butina and setting Hillary Clinton up to be blackmailed. He said he met Butina at a conference that he spoke at in Las Vegas in 2015. She approached him, saying that she had been sent from Russia to make contact with him. He said that she told him there were like-minded people in Russia, who knew he had been friends with Milton Friedman, who would like to meet him.
He explained that because he had assisted the federal government with investigations twice before, he still had a low-level security clearance, and he needed to alert the FBI about his involvement with Butina. He said he was given “the green light” to continue his relationship with her.
“We had an intellectual relationship. I was given a green light to meet her again. She turned that into a physical relationship,” he told MacCallum. He added that they had a relationship for about six months and that he had tried to introduce her to some “foreign policy thinkers.”
Byrne said her purpose was to be “a backchannel for peace” and he was about two-thirds convinced it was going to be a positive experience and one-third worried that he was taking a great risk. He said that after a while, he noticed that she was “swanking around” with a lot of “bigwigs” in the Republican Party, including Donald Trump Jr.
He said that her instructions from Russia were to meet with representatives from the Clinton, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump campaigns and that he had told the FBI that information. Byrne said that the feds were keenly interested in her activities with the Clinton campaign, but didn’t care what she did with the rest of the campaigns.
“They knew that and they let it all happen,” he told MacCallum. Byrne added that there were three top officials at the FBI whom he called “X, Y and Z” who “were behind all this.”
He said after he broke up with Butina, the FBI pressured him to “rekindle” his relationship with her. He stressed that the FBI agents who transmitted those orders to him were very apologetic and made clear that he didn’t have to follow them. The orders, he said, were coming from “X, Y, and Z.” Byrne clarified that those individuals were top officials in the Obama administration — not people like Strzok, whom he compared to an errand boy. He said he couldn’t reveal the names yet, but that Attorney General Barr has the information. “They’ll reveal it to you,” he said.
Byrne reiterated that he was mostly convinced that Butina was in the United States to do good, and was hanging out with like-minded conservatives and libertarians.
He said that by December of 2015, he was suspicious that the Feds were allowing Butina to “swim around” with Republicans so that they could have this “can-o-scandal develop on the Republicans and someday they’re going to pick it up, shake it, crack it, and spray it on the Republicans.”
Byrne exclaimed, “Nah! No way! No way would James Comey, no way would President Obama ever do something like that!”
He pointed out that that was seven months before the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence investigation opened up on the Trump campaign.
“I was already hypothesizing that this was starting to seem like they were deliberately letting this grenade develop on Republicans. Are they just going to pull the pin on it someday?” Byrne said.
He told MacCallum that after he was invited to go to Russia to speak at an event, he was told to break off the relationship, which he did. After that, Byrne said the FBI had him work on another case that involved the corruption of a public official. He said when that matter was complete, “it ended in an odd way that sounded fishy.” He told MacCallum that the DOJ has all of those details. “It involved the corruption of a public official and it ended in a way that smelled like skunk,” he said.
Byrne said at the time of the Republican convention in July of 2016, that FBI agents on behalf of “X, Y, and Z” asked him to “conduct a romantic relationship in order to get information” from Butina. He said he continued a relationship with the Russian but it was strictly platonic.
“I never laid a finger on her because I knew it would disgrace our country and it would disgrace Maria.” He said he created the impression for the FBI, but it was all a lie.
“I did that and at the same time, I set up X, Y, and Z” for some felony charges,” he added.
Byrne told MacCallum that he wasn’t concerned whether or not people believed him.
“Listen, I’ve put everything on the line. I was warned that I was going to be destroyed by this — that all of Washington was going to grind me into dust. I had to eject from the company,” he pointed out. “You want to see a former director crap his pants?” he asked.
“Go stick a television camera on Strzok or let’s just say James Comey and say the name Patrick Byrne — you will see a former director of the FBI sh–crap his pants,” he said.
After Byrne’s interview, MacCallum asked former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to respond to his shocking claims.
“He’s describing it like he was being used as a source and being inserted into a situation by the feds, and there are protocols for handling sources,” Whitaker said. “All of this can be corroborated. That’s the key. This whole situation has to be corroborated and the nice thing about John Durham is that he has the full picture of everything that was feeding into this investigation.”
When asked by MacCallum whether Byrne appeared credible, the former Iowa federal prosecutor said he was unsure.
“It’s hard for me to say,” he remarked.