Russian agent Maria Butina and Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne were previously “romantically involved,” Butina’s attorney Robert Driscoll told The New York Times.
Byrne and Butina reportedly met at a libertarian conference in 2015, and got close over the course of three years. The CEO claimed he periodically communicated with the FBI about their interactions, and said the government instructed him on how to interact with her. Driscoll said Byrne contacted him after Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison, claiming to have spoken to the agency about his client.
Byrne recalled to the Times that Butina spoke about meeting or attempting to meet people involved in the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). He claimed he was still “quite fond” of Butina, and said she should “go home and be president of Russia one day.” An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.