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Home / Business / Overstock CEO: The FBI has asked me to have a romantic relationship with Maria Butina

Overstock CEO: The FBI has asked me to have a romantic relationship with Maria Butina



The claim made in a 30-minute and sometimes bizarre live interview on CNN came on the same day that Byrne left his company. He gave days after the publication of a press release in which he invoked the claim of a "deep state" that led to a sharp drop in the stock markets. The news of his resignation recovered.

Byrne's story, told to CNN anchor Chris Cuomo in "Cuomo Prime Time," and aired in earlier interviews in Fox Business News and Fox News, also contained allegations that high-ranking officials in Obama's administration, including James Comey, the former FBI director, agreed to the office's requests.

This has not been verified by the authorities, and spokespersons from the Department of Justice and the FBI have declined to comment. Achieved on Thursday night by CNN, Comey Byrnes called the statement "ridiculous".

"The FBI does not work that way," Comey said.

A US official told CNN Thursday that Byrne had met officials earlier this year and told them similar information about an FBI-sponsored romantic relationship with Butina. The US official said that Justice Department officials, Byrne, found certain aspects of the Byrne story believable, in part because he shared operational details with others that were not widely known.

Butina, a firearms enthusiast, talked to him about weapons and later invited him to Russia, where she claimed to have powerful connections.

Byrne said he had informed the FBI about contacting him. He has established a relationship with the FBI after helping the office in two previous cases, he said, adding that agents have told him that he has a "non-standard relationship with the government."

The FBI, according to Byrne, was highlighted in green and "encouraged" him to establish a relationship with Butina, which he did ̵

1; he said he would meet with the young student every six weeks and with her on philosophy and politics to discuss.

Byrne said he was worried when Butina mentioned her relationship with Kremlin-affiliated banker Alexander Torshin, whom she said had instructed her to try to penetrate the upper reaches of American politics. Butina's efforts in the US and her communication with Torshin were confirmed in court records in the case filed by the Washington DC prosecutor last year against Butina.

The prosecution accused Butina of trying to engage with prominent political groups, including the National Rifle Association, to promote Russia's interests. It pleaded guilty at the end of last year and in a statement of consent admitted to acting "under the direction" of a Russian official identified by CNN as Torshin. She is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence. Torshin did not respond to comments from CNN when the indictment of Butina failed.

Byrne said he told the FBI what he learned about Butina's mission in the US, but that "they always refuse."

"It was so strange that I thought it was almost like" I'm creating this Can-o scandal and one day they will shake it up, crack it and spray it on the whole Republican Party ", he said.

Byrne later alleged that the FBI had ordered him to break off his relationship with Butina before turning to him again in July 2016, saying he needed to "revive" his relationship with her to support the efforts of Supporting offices at a time when Russia's attempts to interfere in the US presidential election have been investigated.

"She came back to me and said," Boy, what a mistake we made. "Russia, you have Right … highest national priority, "he said.

They said, "We want to be clear – this never happens in the United States," Byrne added. "We are the good guys, we do not work like the bad guys, but we need to ask you to resume a romantic relationship with Maria Butina."

Asha Rangappa, a former FBI official and CNN Legal analyst said elements of Byrne's claims about how the FBI had suggested its initial efforts to build a relationship with Butina, in line with the way the office would normally conduct a counterintelligence investigation. [19659003] But she said she was skeptical of his claim that the office later encouraged him to have a "romantic relationship" with Butina.

"If he alone had a romantic affair with her and provided them with information, I do not know that would necessarily be beyond the borders," she said. But if the FBI asked him to have a romantic relationship, "it seems incredibly suspicious just because it's a lot of legal liability, so you can imagine what situations he / she said," she said.

Byrne's comments and resignation as CEO of Overstock came after he released a press release earlier this month alleging that he helped the FBI make political espionage, "Byrne wrote Letter on his resignation. "I now intend to leave things to the prestigious Ministry of Justice (which I have undoubtedly annoyed enough when I went public) and for some time to disappear."

Instructed earlier this year Attorney General William Barr the Attorney General of Connecticut John Durham on the way the intelligence services worked in the early days of Russia's investigation It is not clear whether Byrne's claims were examined by Durham.

Robert Driscoll, Butina's lawyer, said about Byrne's resignation: "I wish him well. I believe he has raised questions that should be investigated and that jeopardize his career, as it turned out. "

Jackie Wattles of CNN contributed to this report.


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