Unlike Michael Sussmann, Patrick Byrne Was Not Prosecuted for Providing Allegedly False Tips to the Government

Among the many records on the Durham investigation DOJ newly released to American Oversight on June 1 is an email, dated August 23, 2019, from Seth DuCharme to Durham and one of his aides revealing that “Overstock CEO gave info to DOJ for John Durham’s review of Russia investigation origins.”

We can be fairly sure what Byrne provided DOJ because he first went on Fox and CNN and laid it all out there. His excuse for getting laid by Maria Butina, he said, was that Peter Strzok told him to do it as an investigative ploy (the reasons why have never really made sense).

“I figured out the name of who sent me the orders and this has been confirmed. The name of the man who sent me was Peter Strzok,” Byrne exclaimed, naming the embattled former FBI agent at the center of the right’s Spygate conspiracies. “This is going to be quite a whirlwind.”

At times bursting into tears, Byrne alleged there was a “big coverup” of “political espionage” that was connected to President Trump, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, insisting that “this is not a theory” of his because he was “in the room when it happened.”

“Both catching my friend’s murderer and taking on Wall Street were consistent with my values and it was my honor to help the Men in Black and it was the third time that they came to me,” he said at one point. “And I got some request, I did not know who the hell it came from and it was fishy and three years later on watching television and I realized who it was—it was Peter Strzok and [former Deputy FBI Director] Andy McCabe, that the orders came from.”

Byrne said he decided to come forward with his Deep State concerns because he felt guilty for recent mass shootings.

“But the issue is, I realized that these orders I got came from Peter Strzok, and as I put together things, I know much more than I should know and tried to keep silent,” he said. “Everyone in this country has gone nuts, and especially for the last year when I realized what I know, every time I see one of these things, somebody drives 600 miles to gun down 20 strangers in the mall, I feel a bit responsible.”


“No doubt Peter Strzok would watch this and say he’s full of it, I had nothing to do with anything,” the Fox News anchor stated.

Here is my first post on the allegations, written the same day as this Seth DuCharme email.

Strzok would ultimately deny the allegations about him specifically.

In early November, he told me that he had never met Byrne, and had “no awareness” of him before reading about him in the news in August, 2019. When I asked about one of Byrne’s most incendiary claims—whether an F.B.I. agent might instruct someone to pursue a romantic relationship with a suspect in order to gather intelligence—Strzok said that the Bureau had thirteen thousand agents, and that, though he couldn’t dismiss Byrne’s story out of hand, it sounded “extraordinarily fantastical.” He went on, “This isn’t some James Bond film—we don’t tell people, ‘Go bed this vixen for your country.’ ”

And, unless I missed it in John Durham’s report, he did not even include this among the things he investigated.

It’s hard to know how seriously DOJ took it, but DuCharme’s involvement shows it had the same kind of high level interest as the Alfa Bank anomalies. One of Bill Barr’s key advisors was involved in it. And whatever heed DOJ paid to it, would be hard to take Byrne’s allegations less seriously than the Cyber agents who dismissed the Alfa Bank anomalies in barely more than a day, making substantial errors along the way.

Plus, DOJ withheld this information under a b7A exemption, reflecting that it was treated as part of an ongoing investigation, until Durham finished. Someone at DOJ treated this with enough seriousness to bury for four years. Which raises the prospect that Durham believed it was sound to criminalize Michael Sussmann, a Democratic lawyer sharing a honestly held tip, but chose to do nothing about a guy with ties to a convicted Russian agent sharing wild conspiracies.

And here we are, four years later, and Byrne continues to share wild conspiracies, most that undermine American democracy.

And now, amid reports that Jack Smith is zeroing in the December 18, 2020 meeting at which Patrick Byrne and others pitched seizing voting machines, Byrne is suggesting he has — and plans to release — kompromat on Smith (he may have deleted this but this thread repeats the theme).

I’m not saying Byrne should have been prosecuted for making unsubstantiated claims about the Russian investigation — unless the government can tie his motive to Butina’s operation.

I’m saying the contrast with what Durham did with Michael Sussmann and what he didn’t do with Byrne is a stark indicator that he would criminalize Democratic politics while ignoring crazy conspiracies from someone with direct ties to a Russian influence operation.

Update: Added a second part from the FOIA. h/t Brian Pillon.

25 replies
  1. David F. Snyder says:

    Good lord. The man seems to have a worsening mental health issue (“project much?”). You’d think he’d learn from Jacob Wohl.

  2. notjonathon says:

    There is no bottom. They can always find a way to sink lower. A Marianas Trench of Trumpism.

  3. BriceFNC says:

    Please recall, Butina was hastily deported. She is now a member of the Russian Duma after being welcomed home by Putin as a Russian hero. Also, recall that when Biden arranged release of Brittany Griner he was roundly condemned for not prioritizing the exchange of Marine Paul Whelan over Griner. That raises the question why Griner was never used in negotiations. It also raises questions about her hurried departure from US prisons before her term was completed! Why was it such a high priority to hurriedly deport Butina? Was it to get her out of the country before further investigations? And, why on his last day in office was it a Trump priority to pardon the Republican political operator/boyfriend of convicted spy Butina?

    • FLwolverine says:

      Do you mean “why Butina was never used in negotiation” and “Butina’s hurried release”? Otherwise, I’m not following your thought.

      • BriceFNC says:

        Yes–failed to catch my own error.

        Also, it should be noted that Butina’s political operator/boyfriend, Paul Ericson was in jail after pleading guilty to massive financial fraud charges. To my knowledge, no plan for restitution to his victims was included in the terms of Trump”s pardon. In comment that follows Rayne notes the large number of shady pardons Trump ordered. I know media were overloaded with the aftermath of J6, a second impeachment, and the fear of violence impacting the Biden inauguration–but these shady pardons need to re-emerge as stories in the media if Trump is the Republican nominee!

    • Rayne says:

      Only need to look at their wiki pages to see why Griner might be a higher priority over Whelan within weeks after Russia began its so-called “special missions operation” in Ukraine. We can ignore right-wing trash talk about this point because that’s what it was.

      Unsurprised by the hasty removal of Butina; look at the examples of the Illegals program and Evgeny Buryakov.

      The pardon of Paul Erickson, though, was definitely sketchy, but not much sketchier than Trump’s pardons of Bernie Kerik, Charles Kushner, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Alex van der Zwaan, and Roger Stone.

    • CaptainCondorcet says:

      In addition to Rayne’s great points, I did want to point out that iirc, Butina benefited from a broadly bipartisan change in federal law that, among other things, increased the ease of receiving and overall effective credit for good behavior (First Step Act). Her term was concluded, no different than if it had been any other inmate with the same sentence and conduct.

      As an aside, I suspect that is part of the reason Whelan wasn’t released. Russia did the math and realized they would get her back with zero cost in basically a year and told her to wait it out. Not a lot of literature on the democratic disadvantage (and with good reason, that stuff can get toxic fast), but there’s a wealth of literature on free riders, and that’s what happened here. Russia had full information on our charging, sentencing, and release guidelines, and used them to gain a localized one-way advantage. Such is life.

  4. Lisboeta says:

    Byrne’s claims about Jack Smith bring to mind Giuliani’s words: ‘We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence’. Unfortunately, when such ‘theories’ get repeated, they take on a life of their own.

    • Fancy Chicken says:

      I have to admit, I was a bit shocked when I read that Ms. Reade was going to live, in Russia! I wondered then why no journalist were trying to see if there were any links between her accusations of Biden and Russian contacts at that point in her life.

      In the NYT article I read which quoted her on when she became, ummm, fascinated shall we say with Russia, she claimed she had only become interested in the country after her flame out when she started writing a novel that took place there. It was suggested she may have had an online relationship with a Russian man maybe a year ago which she denied. It totally made me look at her accusations in a new light- Is it possible she was groomed by Russia to go public accusing Biden.? She did have serious financial problems. Are there Russian actors in our country just out there trawling for people to manipulate?

      It’s a much scarier thought than the James Bond drama Byrne is making up.

      • vigetnovus says:

        Short answer: absolutely. See: operation Ghost Stories.

        Bet that was just the tip of the iceberg…..

  5. Alan_OrbitalMechanic says:

    I am always impressed by just how much Maria Butina was able to accomplish.

    Is it just me or is she really not that hot? I suppose a lot of it has to do with the attitude but that doesn’t come across in the available images of her.

    • Eichhörnchen says:

      I’m a little surprised by your comment. I honestly don’t think “hotness” had anything to do with it.

      What about her “marks”? Were they hot enough for her?

      • bmaz says:

        You are back to a 5 character username that does not comply with the now crystal clear requirements of this site.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Russians train their best people well. And chemistry and personality are at least as important, if not more so, as looks. The intelligence challenge is to match the asset with the right target.

      • posaune says:

        I’ve always wondered if Ivana was the asset matched to target Trump. She sure was smarter than him.

        • Jane Ward says:

          Am I the only crackpot who suspects Melania became his handler after Ivana “retired” and the fling with Marla was over?Not really serious, mostly kidding, but who the heck knows!

          • Knowatall says:

            Wasn’t Melania’s father something of an apparatchik in the former Yugoslavia? And, perhaps the Knavs were Knaves after all? (further apologies to punaise).

  6. bidrec-gap says:

    Off topic, I guess, but I took Patrick Byrnes allegations of naked shorting from fifteen years ago seriously.

    • pH unbalanced says:

      I did too. And I read his website, “Deep Capture” for a while.

      His initial claims seemed plausible (if overblown) but everything deteriorated into unreadable nonsense within about two years.

  7. timbozone says:

    Why didn’t they ask an obvious follow on to Byrne’s assertions: “Who else have you been sleeping with as a duty to your country?”

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Jack Welch might have set the standard for CEOs who don’t need a reason to get laid. Not even king and country compete with ambition, narcissism, and excess testosterone. But blaming something that sounds reasonable or patriotic is always good for the next board meeting.

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