Online retailer Overstock.com is searching for a new, permanent CEO.
On Thursday, Patrick Byrne announced he was stepping down from the top role at Overstock.com, following a bizarre statement about the “deep state” and his potential involvement in an FBI investigation.
“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.com, both as CEO and board member,” wrote Byrne in a statement.
In 1999, Byrne founded Overstock.com, which has since grown into a $2 billion business, according to a bio on the company’s website.
Here’s what we know so far about Byrne’s resignation:
Why is he resigning?
In his statement, Byrne cites his involvement in “certain government matters” for his resignation. The company statement did not elaborate on details of the government matters Byrne referenced.
What’s this about the ‘deep state’?
On August 12, Overstock.com issued a press release titled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,” during which Byrne said he somehow became involved in the “Clinton investigation” and the “Russian investigation” starting in 2015. He also discusses helping “the Men in Black,” which he says he had done previously to help in the case of a friend who was murdered and to “shake up Wall Street” a decade ago.
“Unfortunately, this third time turned out to be less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and to a lesser degree, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz),” Byrne said.
Overstock.com’s shares fell 36% in the two days after the statement was made public.
Overstock CEO steps down: Resignation comes after statement about ‘Deep State,’ and investigations of Trump, Clinton
How is Maria Butina involved?
According to The New York Times, which interviewed Byrne, the Overstock.com CEO had become romantically involved with Butina, who was sentenced in April to 18 months in prison for participating in a Russian effort to infiltrate U.S. political organizations. Robert Driscoll, Butina’s lawyer, confirmed to the Times the two were romantically involved.
In an interview with CNN, Byrne claims he was directed by the FBI to pursue a romantic relationship with Butina ahead of the 2016 election.
CNN reports no agencies have verified his claims, and neither the FBI nor Justice Department would comment. In his August 12 statement, Byrne mentions presenting information to the Justice Department in April.
What’s next for Overstock.com?
Jonathan Johnson, who has worked with Overstock.com for nearly 17 years and serves on its board, was appointed interim CEO. “It will be my mission as I take the helm to continue and build on Overstock’s achievements and success,” said Johnson in a statement. Overstock.com did not provide information on a search for a permanent CEO.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.