Shades of Ian Fleming…
Just as the author of the James Bond novels had his hero involved with a Russian agent in the Spy Who Loved Me, the recent resignation of CEO Patrick Byrne from Utah-based Overstock.com has all the intrigue of a spy novel. Byrne’s story involves the Russian woman Maria Butina who is serving 18 months in federal prison on a technicality related to being an unregistered foreign agent.
Why Did Byrne Resign?
When interviewed by Chris Cuomo on CNN, Byrne claimed that it was under the direction of two FBI agents who he was certain was under the orders of then FBI director James Comey. He said that he was ordered to have a salacious affair with Butina. He said that he was then told to take her up on her offer to visit her in Russia and have the opportunity to meet Vladimir Putin. James Comey was asked to respond to the accusation and he said, “America doesn’t engage in these types of activities.”
Byrne resigned because he believed the salacious reports of his relationship would adversely affect Overstock’s business image. As with any good spy novel, shades of grey never fully resolve themselves into black and white. Byrned met the now 30 year old Russian in 2015 at a Libertarian gathering in Las Vegas. Donald Trump also attended. The fact is this – Byrne and Butina had an affair. But now grey clouds cover the landscape. And right now there are still more questions than answers.
Outstanding Questions Regarding the Byrne Butina Affair?
Did the FBI actively seek to have Byrne learn more about Butina?
Was she trying to leverage her way into the NRA and political campaigns?
Was she really just a grad student who was railroaded? AND …are the Russians imprisoning American Paul Whelan as an alleged spy in retaliation for Butina’s jailing?
Utah Stories hopes to gain the answers to these questions, as we are now seeking an interview with Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne on our Utah Stories Show.
Listen to a recent episode of the Utah Stories Show on another Utah tech CEO, Pete Ashdown. We talk about internet safety and especially the impact social media has on children. Click here to listen.
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