Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne tendered his shock resignation yesterday after 20 years of guiding the company he founded into one of the premier shopping sites on the Internet. This was followed by a blizzard of halting appearances on several cable news shows. His first and least rehearsed appearance was on FBN's Bulls & Bears, seen here.
Byrne's demeanor shifts dramatically during the beginning of the interview, where he starts out very confidently talking about the great performances of his various companies and becomes very agitated or even under the influence of drugs and quite terrified, which is disturbing to watch. It is unlikely that Byrne would have imploded his corporations and jeopardized his personal safety on a whim. In other interviews he gave yesterday, Byrne said that he "liked Obama" and that he did not vote for Trump.
He says that the third time in his life that he helped the FBI was in 2015-2016 and he oddly refers to them as the "Men in Black". The first time was in 2002, to help solve the murder of his friend [former NBA player] Brian Williams, the second time was in 2005-2010, when he helped take down some bad actors on Wall Street.
Byrne says that it was while watching Peter Strzok's testimony before Congress last summer in July 2018 that he understood he'd been used by the latter as a tool in "political espionage" for the 2016 campaign. He says Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump were all spied on and that there were other whistleblowers who would be coming forward. He said Clinton supporters in Hollywood had been spied on.
Although he won't say their names publicly in this interview, agents "X, Y, and Z" can easily be gathered to mean Andrew McCabe, William Priestap and James Comey. During his CNN interview with Chris Cuomo, he confirmed that "Z" was Comey. "Political espionage" is not a legal term but Espionage is a felony that carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years.
He says, "I could not come forward until there was rule of law in this country," which he did do in April of 2019, as soon as Attorney General William Barr was sworn in and an investigation into the origins of the Russian Collusion probe was initiated.
Byrne begins to cry at two different points during this interview, the first, when referring to the El Paso shooting as a symptom of the undeclared civil war in the US and the second time, when referring to his mentor, Warren Buffett, who he says told him to come forward with his story about being used by these FBI officials of the Obama Administration.
Byrne says that all of the information he gathered is now in the hands of Connecticut US Attorney John Durham, who has been conducting an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe at the behest of Attorney General William Barr, of whom he says, "There’s going to be a sculpture of granite of him somewhere!"
Transcript of interview starting at 1:46.
Patrick Byrne: I've been warned that if I come forward to America, that the apparatus of Washington is going to grind me into a dust…I have to get that away from the company (Overstock.com).
Why is it going to grind me into a dust? You’ve caught me off guard, David (removes hat) and I can tell that what I said before, some sparkies up there, they didn't quite get the joke, when I say that I know about the Russia investigation, this is what I mean [during interviews he gave last month].
Because, 17 years ago, I helped them crack a murder - and they knew me and I helped them a bit on Wall Street 12 years ago - and they knew me and they called me in 2015 and 2016 to assist in something and I did. I didn’t know who the orders came from but I assisted…I took some orders that were fishy.
Last summer, watching television, I figured out the name of who sent me the orders and this has all now been confirmed to me.
The name of the man who sent me was Peter Strzok. Got it? So, this is going to be quite a Whirlwind.
David Asman: that has not been revealed, so far as I know as of yet. Are you working with the Attorney General in his investigation?
Patrick Byrne: Let me be clear, I'm not working with anybody…Last time I talked to Federal officers was 5 months ago and I explained everything to them, between April 5th and 30th over a course of 7 hours and then I disappeared.
Bill Barr – there’s going to be a sculpture of granite of him somewhere!
I have been sitting on this stuff for 3 years. I could not come forward until there was rule of law in this country. I wasn’t going to come forward when this guy, Jeff Sessions – Truman said of an opponent, “I’d carve a better man than that out of a banana.”
That's how everyone should feel about Jeff Sessions!
We finally have rule of law and I can come forward in April and…I don't want to get into any Federal way. I want to disappear - but there's other whistleblowers from in the Federal bureaucracy with similar stories and I can tell you the bottom line - and again, people didn't seem to get it last time - the bottom line is, it's a big cover-up: that there was political espionage connected against Hillary Clinton – against Hillary Clinton - Marco Rubio, [Ted] Cruz, Donald Trump.
And this is not a theory of mine, it’s not a political position. I was in the room when it happened. I was part of it. I thought I was doing law enforcement. Sorry!
David Asman: Welcome to the show. I hope the rest of your post-CEO career goes well.
Gary Smith: Patrick, Gary Smith, welcome to the show. First of all, I hope your post-CEO career goes well.
Question, first of all, your story sounds like something that should be a movie for theatrical release. I want to know who will be playing you.
Patrick Byrne: I will cooperate with anyone who can get Denzel Washington to play me!
Gary Smith: You mentioned during the break, you’ve had a rough few months. I'm curious to why you said that and what do you see happening in the next few weeks and months? Do you have legal counsel? What do you think will happen with you and with your story?
Patrick Byrne: This is extraordinarily…who the heck knows? This is quite an ambiguous situation.
But the issue is, I realized that these orders I got came from Peter Strzok and as a put together things, I know much more than I should know and it’s right to keep silent.
And this country has gone nuts, especially for the last year, when I realized what I know; every time I see one of these things; somebody drive 600 miles to gun down 20 strangers in the mall, I feel a bit responsible (begins to cry). So, I have to come forward.
I went to see my rabbi (crying) and you know my rabbi is, right?
Who is my rabbi? Who’s my rabbi, David?
David Asman: Tell us, Patrick.
Patrick Byrne: It’s this guy in Omaha and he said, “Patrick, you come forward.” He said, “You cannot let this sit with the Feds. Let the Feds do their job. You have to come forward to the American people.”
So, I am.
I had never heard of the guy, I only figured out last summer who sent me these requests, a guy named Peter Strzok and he was doing it on behalf of three officials, I’m just identifying them now as “X, Y, and Z”.
They were named to me and I identified them to the law enforcement and I believe there is a massive Federal investigation that is going to turn up that there was political espionage connected, through a number of different venues; against Hillary Clinton and against Rubio, Cruz and Trump.
I know for fact. I know other people who were involved. That’s what really happened.
And my rabbi said, “You cannot go another day – you have to do this right now. People are killing each other in America.” That is the truth.
This is my “Soylent Green is people!” moment or whatever (laughs). That’s the truth.
Female Host: Patrick, I'm just curious, I'm sure this is a very difficult thing for you to come to terms with, there's so much at risk for you personally. How do you see your life unfolding after this? You gave up your CEO position. I understand why you have to do what's right for the shareholders, but making a decision to get involved in this has cost you a lot.
Patrick Byrne: Well, what can I say? That's not the main event. And I talked about that. The analysis here was, “What’s good for the country?” not “What’s good for you? What’s good for this?” It’s what’s good for the country. “You have to do this.” So I did.
My life, I have literally been warned, I was warned about 9 months ago, if you come forward… Washington, DC - everybody in Washington, DC will spend the rest of your life trying to grind you into dust.
And I’ll tell you something else that’ll come up. I believe I was offered $1 billion bribe to keep quiet – we’ll leave that to the Federal investigators.
If you wanna know what my life’s gonna be, listen to Warren Zevon’s “Money, Guns and Lawyers.” That’s my life.
David Asman: Patrick, you mentioned your rabbi. Without revealing too much, were you talking about a man named Buffett?
Patrick Byrne: Yes.
David Asman: Warren Buffett, who we should mention by the way, you worked with Warren Buffett and he acted as a mentor for you. Have you been taking advice from him on a regular basis now about all that’s happened to you?
Patrick Byrne: Just once, on this. He was one of the great heroines (sic) of my life – pardon me, for being verklempt.
David Asman: is understandable. With everything you've been through.
Patrick Byrne: I met him when I was 13 and I called him “rabbi” and he’d leave a message, “Tell Patrick his rabbi is calling,” and that's probably the right way to describe the relationship, although none of us are Jewish.
And he gives me advice and I went to see him on June 20th and he told me, “You have to do this.” And I’ve been trying to do so gracefully this summer - but anyway -
Other Male Host: You're the CEO of a company that you started, you have a board, shareholders, you have employees, I’ve just got to ask you, why are you involved in any of this, whatever any of this is, I don't know how to make heads or tails of it, although I'm sure it'll be fodder for every conspiracy theory known to man - but why?
You’re also a CEO and responsibly, you could've just said, this is not my lane, I'm not going there, and that is not an appropriate division of labor. That would've been honorable and legitimate thing to say.
Patrick Byrne: Well, I'm a citizen too. I'm a flag-waving hippie, like Jerry Garcia. I'm a citizen and I think that as a citizen, we have duties, too. And if everybody helped out a little bit when they had a chance, life would be much easier.
I helped out twice in my life. Once, when a friend of mine got murdered. I helped Brian Williams. If you Google his name, you’ll find the story. I helped the Feds bring the murderer to justice and it was my honor to help bring them to justice. And I helped them back in ‘05 through 2010, to take on Wall Street.
Both catching my friends’ murderer and taking on Wall Street were consistent with my values and it was my honor to help the Men in Black then.
And this was the third time that they came to me and I got some request, I didn’t know who the Hell it came from and it was fishy and 3 years later, I’m watching television, and I realized who it was. It was Peter Strzok and Andy McCabe, that’s who these orders came from.
David Asman: By the way, just to make it clear, that's not a Make America Great hat, is it?
Patrick Byrne: No, it isn't. (Puts hat back on) What is it?
David Asman: Make America Grateful Again, correct?
Patrick Byrne: Correct. With a Grateful Dead stele…
Jonathan Hoenig: Patrick, very briefly, its Jonathan Hoenig, thank you for being with us. I think to Zach's point, you were CEO of a publicly-traded company. You started the company. It's hard to see how some of this didn’t have some impact on shares.
There was DeepCapture.com, which was a website that you are involved with that had some legal troubles. This might sound –
Patrick Byrne: Not really. It’s just a suit in Canada. I lost a lawsuit in Canada. You're a journalist, you're supposed to defend the First Amendment.
I didn’t even have to do that, I have the same journalistic Protections and laws that protect you. Simply to fight for free speech, I took the case on in Canada. You're a journalist, you should stand up for me on something like that.
Jonathan Hoenig: As a CEO, a person who started the company, this might sound curved but how does it feel to see the stock rally when you step down?
Patrick Byrne: There is a very odd -- I agree about it, not only am I shareholder now but as a shareholder, I can tell you, given that I have now and what I have done, I don't think there's anything unethical about me saying this. Given what I have done, I didn’t choose this fight. I’m doing it. If you want to help me, go buy your daughter a rug at Overstock.com. If you want to help me out, even though the entirety of Washington, DC - even though I left the company – is gonna be coming after [me] -- who the heck knows…
What’s your question? It seems silly to me. You're a journalist, you should be smarter and stand for principles more than that question illustrated.
Of course, you have duties as a citizen, even when you’re a CEO. I never involved the company in anything, the company is completely unrelated. I have extracurricular activities, I skydive, I surf and twice in my life, when a friend of mine got murdered and when goons on Wall Street - I figured out what they were doing - I helped the Federal government take them down.
And when they told me that they needed my help with this and I thought I was helping with legitimate law-enforcement, I helped them. It turns out I was a tool in a game of political espionage.
I did not know that. I only figured it out last summer. I thought I was doing something legitimate and a tiny little thing on a side that took a little bit of time away from the office.
It turns out it was political espionage. I only figured it out a year ago.
David Asman: For those who don't know –
Patrick Byrne: Who was asking that question? Who was that fool?
David Asman: That was Jonathan Hoenig. Let me -
Jonathan Hoenig: I’m a fool?
Patrick Byrne: You’re a fool.
David Asman: Let just me say, take before things get out of control, Patrick is one person who has never focused on the day-to-day movement of his stock, because he realizes how mercurial that stock movement can be.
So, Patrick, in defense of your stand, with regard to the stock, that is a long-standing one but what happens now with regard to the whole blockchain that you have brought into Overstock, as a part of Overstock? I know that you feel that that’s a mission of yours, where does that go from here?
Patrick Byrne: That is great, I’ve had an idea that this was coming, since last July, since I put this jigsaw together. I didn't think there was any way that something like this would likely happen someday. Who the heck knows.
I have been preparing very carefully. These companies -- some of these companies, if they existed before we started them are just like some young guys, some java monkeys with a blockchain idea, “Hey, let's build a blockchain central bank,” and it's like the show, Silicon Valley, it's a bunch of guys like that.
We would show up, provide capital, professionalize them, turn them real. Those companies, now they have boards of directors, they capital, they’re all over the world, they’re solid companies and they have a tremendous reservoir of blockchain talent, back here in Utah, that services all of the other parts of the network.
It is really -- the guy who built this – I was maybe the draftsman, Jonathan Johnson, who is a great colleague of mine for 17 years has built that and fleshed it in and he’s done a great job. He’s becoming CEO and is super capable.
David Asman: Well, it's an extraordinary idea and I know both you and I think there is something to this that may actually undermine some of the central-bank nonsense that we're seeing going right now.
We have to run, we have to have you back Patrick. Please come back and see us again.
Patrick Byrne: I’m laying low.
Running Time 16 mins