The former head of Overstock who claimed he was romantically involved with a Russian spy said the FBI made him sleep with the flame-haired secret agent.
Patrick Byrne, the ex-CEO of Overstock.com, insisted the alleged tryst with Maria Butina was part of a “deep state” government conspiracy when he appeared Thursday on CNN, hours after he resigned from the discount furniture seller.
“They wanted me to engage and so I did,” Byrne told CNN host Chris Cuomo. “I went and engaged. It immediately turned romantic as these things do.”
Byrne claimed that the FBI agents then ordered him to break up with Butina, only to later ask him to “rekindle” the romance in summer 2016 as they investigated Russian election meddling.
“[The federal agents] said, ‘We want to be clear – this never happens in the United States,’” Byrne said. “’We are the good guys. We don’t work like the bad guys, but we need to ask you to rekindle a romantic relationship with Maria Butina.’”
Butina is serving an 18-month sentence for seeking to influence US policy as a Russian spy.
In another interview with Fox News, Byrne repeated claims that he was part of a “big coverup” in Washington, DC, at times breaking down in tears as he explained that his resignation was due to political espionage.
“This is me ejecting, and I have to. I have to because I’ve been warned that if I come forward to America that the apparatus of Washington is going to grind me into a dust,” Bryne said on “Bulls & Bears” on Thursday.
While wearing a “Make America Grateful Again” hat, which included a logo for the band Grateful Dead, Byrne explained that he helped the government solve a murder 17 years ago and federal agents asked him to aid them with investigations again in 2015 and 2016.
“I didn’t know who the orders came from but I assisted,” Bryne said. “It was some very honorable agents and some very honorable people… I took some orders that seemed a little fishy.”
He claimed that he figured out who directed the plot last summer while watching television.
“I figured out the name of who sent me the orders and this has been confirmed. The name of the man who sent me was Peter Strzok,” Byrne said, referring to an FBI agent named in Spygate conspiracies.
In the bizarre 16-minute interview, Byrne said he came forward with the allegations because he feels responsible for the country’s gun control issues.
“I realized that these orders I got came from Peter Strzok, and as I put together things, I know much more than I should know and tried to keep silent,” he said. “Everyone in this country has gone nuts, and especially for the last year when I realized what I know, every time I see one of these things, somebody drives 600 miles to gun down 20 strangers in the mall, I feel a bit responsible.”