Speculation over the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and counterintelligence operation targeting the 2016 Trump campaign took an interesting turn in August. It began when investigative journalist Sara A. Carter reported that the now-former CEO of Overstock, Patrick Byrne, had revealed that he played a role in both of these FBI probes. Byrne has since appeared on the Fox Business Network, where he claimed – among other things – that “this is going to become the greatest political scandal in US history.”
Some elements of the left-wing media have already begun to dismiss Byrne’s claims – even implying that the man is quite insane. That alone is reason enough to suspect he could be onto something, of course, but how much do we know about the creator of online retail store Overstock? Why has he recently stepped away from the company and how can his claims about working with the FBI be corroborated?
Byrne resigned August 22, citing fallout from his revelations about his involvement with a deep state “political espionage” operation. Though he has been somewhat evasive about his role in the Clinton and Trump investigations, Byrne has admitted that he was romantically involved with Maria Butina, who has been variously described as a Russian gun rights advocate and a Russian agent. Earlier this year, Butina was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to 18 months in prison after she failed to register as a foreign agent.
On August 19, Byrne appeared on the Fox Business Network but revealed no more details about his connections to the FBI. He did, however, make some explosive claims:
“In a very strange way … I ended up in the center of the Russian and the Clinton investigations … I have the answers to both of those [FBI investigations] – what they all are is all about political espionage – had nothing to do with law enforcement … Here’s the bottom line. There is a deep state like a submarine lurking just beneath the waves of the periscope depth watching our shipping lanes. And a nuclear ice breaker called the USS Bill Barr has snuck up on them and is about to ram then amidships [sic].”
Byrne went on to claim: “Everything you think you know about Russia and Clinton investigations is a lie. It was all a cover-up.” He also said that “political espionage was conducted” against Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump. “And I can tell you,” Byrne told host David Asman, “two of the names involved were John Brennan and James Comey.”
Brennan was former President Barack Obama’s CIA Director and Comey was Obama’s FBI Director. The latter remained at his post until President Trump fired him in 2017. Both men have since become vocal Trump critics, known for their overly dramatic statements about the president’s alleged assaults on democracy.
The former Overstock CEO implies that he was acting as a human intelligence asset – or informant – for the FBI and that he had fulfilled a similar role for the Bureau on two previous occasions that were not connected to political matters.
Whatever else is true (or not true), Byrne is, clearly, not just weaving a fictional tale: He has provided the Justice Department with documents, including copies of emails. According to Sara Carter, several sources have confirmed that “Attorney General William Barr … is investigating the full extent of Byrne’s claims and the documentation he provided in April.”