Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who resigned from the company on Thursday amid his alleged ties to a government operation, made bombshell accusations on CNN late on Thursday night, claiming that top FBI officials reached out to him in 2015-2016 to conduct law enforcement activities that turned out to be political espionage.
Byrne appeared to indicate that the request came from FBI agents after it was passed down from a top FBI official, who he later says he learned was anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok. Byrne said that the political espionage operation targeted four candidates: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.
Byrne appeared on Fox News with Martha MacCallum before he went on CNN, where he "said that all of the purported information he gleaned from his experiences ultimately landed in the hands of Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been conducting an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe at the behest of Attorney General William Barr," Fox News reported.
MacCallum then asked former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to respond to the wild allegations that Byrne was making.
"He's describing it like he was being used as a source and being inserted into a situation by the feds, and there are protocols for handling sources," Whitaker said. "All of this can be corroborated. That's the key. This whole situation has to be corroborated and the nice thing about John Durham is that he has the full picture of everything that was feeding into this investigation."
Last month, Fox News reported that "key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz early in his investigation into alleged government surveillance abuse have come forward at the 11th hour" in what was described as a "breakthrough."
There is no indication from Fox News' report that Byrne was one of the people who came forward or that the story involves him.
Byrne claimed: "[FBI agents], they said, 'we want to be clear, this never happens in the United States, we are the good guys, we don't work like the bad guys, but we need to ask you to rekindle a romantic relationship with Maria Butina.'"
Maria Butina is a Russian national and a convicted spy who is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence "after she admitted to gathering intelligence on the National Rifle Association and other groups at the direction of a former Russian lawmaker," CBS News reported.
Byrne claims that the FBI agents told him that the orders were being "personally supervised" by three people, two of which he did not name, and the third person he claimed was former FBI Director James Comey.
Byrne claimed that he liked former President Barack Obama, did not vote for Trump, and that he could not believe what was going on that he claims happened.
Byrne claims that the FBI basically allowed the entire Russia scandal to develop so they could "shake it up and ... spread it all over the Republican Party."
Byrne claims that after the investigation was done that "it became clearer it was more about blackmail than it was law enforcement."
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