Why Overstock’s Patrick Byrne is Involved in Jan. 6 Hearings
POverstock.com founder atrick Byrne has been making bizarre headlines for many decades. He was criticized for his love life with a Russian spy and for ridiculing rival business owners. Star WarsFor using crypto- and precious metals as a means of insulting him.
Byrne, the latest big-name character in the continuing saga surrounding the Capital riot investigation, is making a comeback in this month’s news cycle. Byrne was one of President Trump’s most prominent corporate allies during his final days in the Oval Office, spreading conspiracy theories about election fraud to the public. In December 2020, Byrne came to the White House and participated in a pivotal meeting with Trump’s inner circle about ways in which the President might contest the election. Byrne will be privately interviewed by the House Select Committee on Friday about the night, and any possible connections to the insurrection.
Some social media users have called for Overstock to be boycotted. The company, however, has distanced itself strongly from him and repeatedly stressed that he had resigned in 2019 from Overstock.
Here’s what to know about the polarizing former CEO.
Byrne supports dubious theories for a long time.
Overstock.com was established by Byrne as a retailer giant in 1999. Byrne was fiercely protective of Overstock.com from both rivals as well as skeptics. He filed several lawsuits in the mid-00s against hedge funds for conspiring to bring down his company by naked short selling shares. It is an illegal type of stock manipulation.
Although his claims were dismissed by many as ridiculous at the time of their publication, the 2007 financial crisis revealed that short-selling was actually a widespread practice, used to influence markets. The S.E.C. Overstock was banned from naked shorting. Overstock also won millions in settlements resulting from litigations, including those against Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.
Byrne’s victories in his fight against Wall Street seemed to have emboldened him into believing other bold theories. Deep Capture is his website that he filled with tales about the mafia’s plots to take his life. He claimed Obama officials attempted to set up a plot against Hillary Clinton during her 2016 term in an attempt to subdue her.
He bought a ranch in the Rockies and turned it into a doomsday hideaway complete with weapons stockpiles and food that would last for years, telling the New Yorker that it would be a “place to go when zombies walk the earth.” And in 2014, Overstock became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin for purchases.
Byrne was dating Maria Butina (Russian woman) in 2015. She would go on to spend over a year in jail for conspiring as a foreign agent. Officials claim she was trying to make friends with powerful conservatives in the year preceding the 2016 election. In their relationship, it was unclear who was the mark and who was the con: Byrne, for his part, has said that he consistently reported Butina’s suspicious activities to the F.B.I. Byrne was fired as Overstock’s head in 2019 after their affair became public.
While some of Byrne’s ideas and actions might have seemed outlandish to his colleagues and friends, his successful lone-wolf crusade against Wall Street years earlier had won him the respect and trust of many. In December 2020, Warren Buffett, Byrne’s former mentor, called him “very intelligent and patriotic” in a statement to the New Yorker.
Jonathan Johnson succeeded Byrne to the C.E.O. of Overstock, said of Byrne and his conspiracy theories about the deep state: “From 2005 to 2008, he was made to look crazy, and in 2008 he was vindicated…I don’t know all the facts on this, as I did with the Wall Street stuff. But I do know Patrick, and it won’t surprise me at all if he is vindicated again.” (In a statement to TIME this week, an Overstock representative responded to a query regarding Johnson’s quote, saying, “Jonathan has had no contact with Patrick since well before the article you link was published. Evidently, a lot has changed since 2020. Therefore, he cannot reaffirm his comment or comment further on this situation.”)
Byrne becomes involved in Trump’s efforts to retain the presidency.
Byrne, who was a vocal opponent of vaccines and spread misinformation about COVID-19 online and on social media in 2020 during the outbreak of coronavirus, began to give anti-vaccine speeches. He appeared on YouTube and podcasts devoted to conspiracy theories supporting Trump after the election. A film he also funded was called The Deep RigFalse claims were made about the 2020 elections by a group called. Byrne’s unsupported claims that Dominion’s voting machines were rigged led to the company filing a lawsuit against him, seeking $1.7 billion in damages.
On Dec. 18, as Trump and his team debated how to handle the upcoming transfer of power, Byrne was able to finagle his way into the White House and win the president’s ear. Trump should insist on not granting the election until further investigation into voter fraud is completed.
In a lengthy blog post, Byrne described the hours-long and tense meeting. According to Byrne, he gained entry into the White House because he was in General Michael Flynn’s party and that he advised Trump heavily. Byrne quotes Trump as saying, “Knowing I was cheated, that they rigged this election? How can I just walk away from that?”
It’s unclear how much of Byrne’s version is true, but other sources have confirmed that he was there, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. In a videotaped interview aired Tuesday during the hearing, Cipollone speaks dismissively of Byrne coming to the White House with Flynn and the lawyer Sidney Powell, saying: “First of all, the Overstock person — I didn’t even know who this guy was…I don’t think any of these people were providing the president with good advice. I didn’t understand how they had gotten in.”
The White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who was recently interviewed by the committee, described the Oval Office as being “UNHINGED” in a text messageThat night, she was accompanied by another employee. She wrote that alcohol was flowing freely among staffers, and the next morning, wrote: “Get this — the CEO of Overstock.com was also here!!!!! The dream team!!”
This week, representative Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, told the New York TimesByrne agreed to come in for the transcribed interview. “We’re looking forward to that. He was one of the people in the White House late night talking about the stop-the-steal rally and other things,” Thompson said.
Overstock is a distance.
Following Cipollone’s description of Byrne as “the Overstock person,” he has often been characterized first by his affiliation to the company online. Some people have said that this link led them to believe they would. cancel their subscriptionsSend it to your company.
As a result, Overstock has taken great measures to ensure that Byrne no longer belongs to the company. “Overstock has no association or affiliation with Patrick Byrne and has not for almost three years,” the company wrote on Twitter. “His personal and political beliefs and actions are his own… We help our customers furnish their dream homes.” The company Twitter account has sent out over 70 tweets since Wednesday declaring that Byrne has no involvement with the company and no financial stake.
“Overstock has had outreach from some concerned individuals, largely in response to misinformation from some news outlets providing confusion about our current CEO vs our former CEO,” an Overstock representative wrote in an email to TIME. “Since Patrick Byrne has no current association or affiliation with Overstock – and hasn’t since 2019, over a full year before the 2020 election – our only involvement in this conversation is correcting false statements about our business.”
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