The long, strange intersection between former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne and President Donald Trump’s political universe took another turn over the weekend.
According to The New York Times, a Friday night meeting at the White House was convened to discuss Trump’s strategy to reverse his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. In the meeting, according to The Times, the idea of seizing voting machines in several states was raised by Sidney Powell, Trump’s lawyer, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. While not included in the initial report, Byrne was also present.
Multiple reports said the meeting got heated at times and devolved into a screaming match as White House aides pushed back on Powell and Flynn’s suggestions on overturning the election.
Byrne attacked several White House staffers for being insufficiently loyal to the president as he faces defeat and leaving office on Jan. 20, tweeting, “For the first time in my life, I feel sorry for Donald Trump. He is standing up to his waist in snakes. Trust Rudy and Sidney only.”
Just last month, Byrne claimed he was funding an army of “hackers and cybersleuths” who would prove that the election results were “rigged” by Democrats to help Biden win. There is no credible evidence that vote totals had been changed or manipulated.
On Sunday, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney called Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his defeat and efforts to overturn the election results “sad” and “embarrassing.”
Since his loss, Trump has made repeated specious claims about voter fraud costing him the election. None of those have been proven. The latest target for Trump and his allies are two companies, Dominion Voting and Smartmatic, that they claim have either been hacked or are part of a sweeping plot to deny victory to Trump. Smartmatic has threatened a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and other right-wing media outlets. Fox and Newsmax issued lengthy on-air statements clarifying their reporting about Smartmatic.
In the original and subsequent reporting about the Friday meeting, it was said that the possibility of using the military to seize voting machines was floated by participants. Flynn previously called on the president to declare martial law and use the military to conduct a new election in a number of states he lost to Biden in November.
Byrne disputed the claim that military intervention was discussed in the Friday night meeting, calling that reporting “a 100% fabrication.”
To prove his claim that he was in the White House meeting on Friday, Byrne posted several pictures of himself inside and outside the building.
On Monday, Attorney General William Barr said there was “no basis” for seizing voting machines as the Trump legal team has advocated.
This not the first time that Byrne’s orbit has intersected with Trump. Earlier this year, Byrne claimed he was involved in a romantic relationship with Maria Butina, who was convicted of being a Russian agent. He said he pursued that relationship at the behest of businessman Warren Buffet and “men in black.” He later resigned from Overstock after his claims rattled investors.
Byrne did not respond to requests for comment from The Tribune.