Overstock Dude Says He Only Pretended To Bone Russian Spy Maria Butina For Love Of Country
GO HOME 2019, YOU ARE DRUNK! The country cannot take another batshit news cycle with an insane, libertarian CEO waving around his wizened wiener, shouting that the evil Deep State made him bone Russian spy Maria Butina. We are all so, so tired. And yet, here we are, having to learn about Overstock.com owner Patrick Byrne, the looniest corporate titan on the block since the feds picked up John McAfee.
Okay, fine. Glove up, kids, we're going in.
In 1999, Byrne spent $7 million to start an online furniture site for excess inventory floating around after the dotcom crash. Over the next six years he built it into a billion dollar behemoth, but nothing lasts forever, and by 2005 competitors like Amazon and Wayfair had started to eat Overstock's lunch. Byrne, who fancied himself far too educated to fail, became convinced that the company's woes were caused by voracious hedge funds shorting Overstock shares to bankrupt the company so they could buy it on the cheap. His solution was blockchain -- it's always blockchain with these CEOs -- which he believed would cut out short sellers and also save humanity.
"Over the next five years, we can change the world for 5 billion people," Byrne told Forbes in May. "Well, at least a billion. Maybe 5 billion."
Byrne spent the next ten years suing hedge funds and Wall Street banks, with very moderate success. But his monomania continued, including a 2005 conference call with shareholders where he referred to one accused short seller as a "Sith Lord" (likely SAC Capital founder Steve Cohen), confirmed his reputation as lunatic, and caused his own father to threaten to step down from Overstock's board if he didn't pull his shit together and pay attention to the business. As investor Mark Cuban wrote on his blog:
Never before in the history of Wall Street has a single conference call mentioned the following topics: miscreants, an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under a prison, gay bathhouses, whether he is gay, does cocaine, both or neither, and an obligatory 'not that there is anything wrong with that,' phone taps, phone lines misdirected to Mexico, arrested reporters, payoffs, conspiracies, crooks, egomaniacs, fools, paranoia, which newspapers are shills and for who, payoffs, money laundering, his Irish temper, false identities, threats, intimidation, and private investigators. All in 61 minutes.
And, as Trump-Russia blogger Seth Hettena points out, Byrne claimed on live television that he knew "for a fact there is a fax machine in the CNBC offices where every morning hedge funds send in the instructions," and was once arrested trying to bring a loaded handgun onto an airplane.
None of which has anything to do with Russia, but we mention it because the wingers are currently working themselves into a frenzy pretending this nutball is a credible source, rather than a guy who has been out of his damn mind for fifteen years. Because if Patrick Byrne will go on television and tell them that James Comey and Peter Strzok asked him to sleep with Russian spy lady Mariia Butina, then you bet your ass Fox is going to run with it.
cool https://t.co/NjSOB3SHkq— Andrew Lawrence (@Andrew Lawrence)1566516548.0
Okay, here's the backstory. On August 12, Byrne put out a press release saying:
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.
By "Men in Black," he means the FBI. By "Omaha Rabbi," he means Warren Buffett. And by "the notorious 'missing Chapter 1,'" he means he's a fucking lunatic who just caused his company's stock to drop 30 percent in two days.
As Byrne explained to Seth Hettena, in 2015 he was approached by a brilliant young woman named Maria Butina, one of his many Russian, liberal fans.
She told me there was a circle in Russia of about 150 liberals, from across the Russian power structure, including the oligarchs. They watched my videos on liberalism. They know about my relationship with Milton Friedman. They discuss things I say and write.
(Odds that she made this exact same pitch to her other 55-year-old boyfriend, the one stupid enough to help her set up her NRA-Kremlin playdates who found himself indicted for wire fraud and money laundering? Let's be conservative here and say 99 percent.)
Naturally, Byrne was impressed with the attentive redhead who "came across as far more adult and capable than a typical 26-year-old should." And who could fail to be taken with the woman chosen by that noted Russian liberal Mikhail Kalashnikov to lead the Russian version NRA.
She also told me that General Mikhail Kalashnikov had started a gun rights group in Russia [Право на Оружие — Right to Bear Arms]. But the main function of the group was really to be a club for liberals. "Believe it or not, Dr. Byrne, General Kalashnikov was a liberal, too!" Maria told me.
Wow, it's almost unbelievable that the 96-year-old Kalashnikov, months before he succumbed to a long battle with cancer, had the energy to install a 23-year-old to head a "liberal" gun club in a country with very few legal guns. As in, LOL, we don't believe that shit for a second.
Byrne told Hettena that the Feds immediately questioned him in 2015 about his relationship with Butina, which is how he knew that there was fuckery afoot. But as 2016 wore on, he himself began to wonder if there was something amiss with his new pal.
As the September 2015-March 2016 wore on, my estimation changed. Maria was spending less time talking about John Locke and John Stuart Mill, more time talking about the political circles in which she was swanking around.
She let me know [Alexander] Torshin had told her to focus on Hillary, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump. Whichever of the four won, she was to have a contact in their administration.
Byrne confirms that Butina was being handled by a sanctioned Russian banker with close ties to the Kremlin, and he knew all about her plans to meet with Don Jr. at the NRA shindig in Kentucky. And yet the CEO savant was OUTRAGED that the FBI would commit "espionage" against the political campaigns she was trying to worm her way into by ... investigating to see if those campaigns were receptive Russian offers of influence. This is your brain on Fox.
By July of 2016, Byrne says his FBI contacts were pressuring him to have sex with Butina to see what she knew.
On July 1, 2016, they came back and said, "What a mistake we made. Russia, Russia, Russia. We want you to know that the U.S. government never asks something like this but we are here to ask you to rekindle a romantic relationship with Maria. The orders are coming from X, Y, and Z."
But Byrne is an honorable man, so he decided he'd trick those dirty rascals at the FBI and "Set up X,Y, Z for felony charges down the road." That's right, he made like Alan Dershowitz and kept his panties on for the whole massage.
I would wine and dine and romance Maria, and give the public perception that we were once again romantically involved. I would blow her away with being this unbelievably romantic gentleman to her. I would report that I was back in the saddle, but all the while 100% NEVER TOUCH HER. I knew I had to be 100% pure on that bright line, so when the day came that it was all unearthed (which I knew would happen), the record would show that actually I had not laid a finger on her.
But now he's coming in like an avenging angel because, "My rabbi told me 'You let feds do fed jobs, you do your job. You are a citizen. Your country is ripping itself in two. Your job is to come forward to the public.'" Once again, his "rabbi" is Warren Buffett. And his mind is "diseased." ("Allegedly.")
On the plus side for Overstock shareholders, Byrne resigned Thursday "for the good of the country, for the good of the firm." Shares immediately rose five percent on the news. And now Bill Barr will expose the Deep State EspionageGhaziGate, and when Maria Butina gets out of jail and goes home, she will be president of Russia. By which he does not mean "fall out a tenth story window in a terrible accident." HE LITERALLY MEANS SHE WILL SUCCEED VLADIMIR PUTIN.
And now we are all Chris Cuomo, wondering when we can get someone normal like Sam Nunberg to come on our teevees and say some not-crazy shit. Time for your Wonkette to lie down and wait for the room to stop spinning now.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.