The CEO of Overstock.com resigned Thursday — a week after saying he was in a romantic relationship with a Russian spy and involved in an FBI probe into Russia and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“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,” Patrick M. Byrne said in a letter to shareholders Thursday.
“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.”
Earlier this month, the furniture retailer issued a press release in response to a news report saying Byrne had been involved in the FBI’s probe into the 2016 presidential election. In the release, Byrne explained that he had been helping law enforcement agents, whom he referred to as “Men in Black,” with the “Clinton Investigation” and “Russia Investigation.”
Byrne then told the New York Times that he was romantically involved with Maria Butina, the Russian spy who was posing as a gun rights activist to infiltrate American politics. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Overstock said it would appoint Jonathan Johnson, an Overstock board member and president of Overstock’s blockchain subsidiary Medici Ventures, as its interim CEO.