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Overstock CEO resigns after comments about 'deep state,' Russia investigation
The CEO of internet retailer Overstock resigned Thursday after comments he made recently about the "deep state" and helping the government investigate Russian election interference.
"In July I came forward to a small set of journalists regarding my involvement in certain government matters," Patrick Byrne said in a statement Thursday. "Doing so was not my first choice, but I was reminded of the damage done to our nation for three years and felt my duty as a citizen precluded me from staying silent any longer."
"Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member, effective Thursday, August 22," he added.
The company's stock took a dive earlier this month after Byrne came out with a statement about what he referred to as the "deep state" while saying that he assisted efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Byrne also acknowledged that he was romantically involved with Maria Butina, a Russian operative who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for using NRA activism to infiltrate American politics.
The Overstock executive later told The New York Times that he wanted to highlight what he viewed as problems with the way senior law enforcement officials handled the case against Butina, adding that he was still "quite fond" of her.
Butina's lawyer confirmed that she and Byrne had been "romantically involved" and that Byrne had said he was instructed by government officials on how to interact with her.
"Starting in 2015 I (operating under the belief that I was helping legitimate law enforcement efforts) assisted in what are now known as the 'Clinton Investigation' and the 'Russian Investigation,'" Byrne said on the company's website earlier this month. "It was the third time in my life I helped the Men in Black."
He did not offer any specifics regarding the investigation.
Byrne has a history of making controversial statements. He previously compared his company's cryptocurrency goals to the polio vaccine.
In his statement Thursday, Byrne acknowledged that his presence at Overstock "may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business."
Updated: 5:40 p.m.