Senate Says Jailed Russian Spy Bonded With Overstock CEO Over Bitcoin Hoping to Get to Rand Paul
On Aug. 18, the Senate Intelligence Committee released volume five of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The new version found that former CEO of Overstock.com and noted crypto advocate Patrick Byrne was a patsy to plans by Maria Butina, who is currently serving time for espionage on behalf of Russia.
The romance between Butina and Byrne was the reason the latter gave upon his departure from Overstock last year. Always an eccentric character, Byrne’s account of the relationship said that he was working with U.S. intelligence.
Per one email from Paul Erickson quoted in the report, Byrne was a lifelong bachelor who had become fascinated with Butina and indeed wanted her to have a child with him:
“Since meeting Maria, he has found ever more creative ways to pitch a standing $1 million offer to her ‘to have a baby with him.’ He is utterly enamored of her imagined gene stock and believes that a baby would cement not only his familial line but also relations between our two nations.”
The new report delves into already known details about Byrne and Butina meeting at a libertarian conference, and clarifies that Bitcoin was the unifying factor:
“Butina did not convey her interest in Byrne at FreedomFest to the Committee, noting that ‘someone was talking about Bitcoin, and there were some fresh ideas that I wanted to discover,’ but not mentioning Byrne.”
However, it seems Byrne was not a primary target. The report reads: “The Committee assesses that both Erickson and Butina viewed Byrne, at least initially, as a vector to yet another Republican presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul.”
The report also continues longstanding claims that Russian intelligence used cryptocurrency to fund phishing sites and VPNs as part of its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.