Bizarre new details are emerging about a meeting between a group of election conspiracy believers — including Patrick Byrne, former CEO of Utah-based Overstock.com — and then-President Donald Trump as they tried to convince him to order troops to intervene in ballot disputes.
Among the most outlandish is that Byrne, along with attorney Sidney Powell, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Emily Newman bluffed their way into the White House and all the way into the Oval Office without an appointment.
“We had a vague plan regarding how we were going to get through all the rings of Capitol Police [note: they are not posted at the White House], Secret Service, and Marines without any invitation: Sidney and Mike were the center of global attention, and we were going to try to use that to bullshit our way past them all and get to the Oval Office,” Byrne wrote.
So on the night of Friday, Dec. 18, more than a month after the election had been declared for Joe Biden and four days after the Electoral College met in every state to make it official, Byrne’s small group decided to drive to the White House and try to get to the president, offering ways for him to keep fighting.
Byrne wrote that when guards saw and recognized Flynn, a former Army general, they came to sharp attention. Byrne said he himself had called ahead to a friendly White House aide who had promised to give him a personal tour sometime, and he asked to come that night. “I may have been less than clear that there would be some people with me.”
Byrne said that as guards were confused about why the group had no appointment, Byrne’s friend arrived at the gate. That aide was momentarily shocked to see Flynn but flashed his ID and said he would take the group inside — and he helped them to get through security.
Once inside, the group called other aides they knew — and went to visit them in their offices, each a little closer to the Oval Office. From one, they saw Trump — and then walked toward the president and greeted him as if he should be expecting them.
“President Trump’s eyebrows knitted in puzzlement but his face showed he recognized us, and after a moment he beckoned us in,” Byrne wrote. “Within seconds General Flynn, Sydney Powell, and I were all sitting in the Oval Office with President Donald J. Trump, with the door shut behind us. So that happened. Really.”
Axios provided some confirmation to the story, noting that as the group strutted in to visit Trump, White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann grumbled from the outer Oval Office, “How the hell did Sidney get in the building?”
Byrne said the group then started telling Trump that his staff was not serving him well in urging him to concede election defeat. But they said they had found a legal way for him to keep fighting through executive orders then in place that could allow him to order the National Guard and U.S. Marshals Service to seize and recount ballots in six key counties.
Byrne said he told Trump that his group was sure the election had been hacked, and he added, “I do not think you are being well-served by many people in the White House. I can bring in young staffers who will tell you that some of your senior leadership don’t want you to win. They want you to concede.”
Axios reported that Powell began the meeting with the same claim that now has her facing a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit: that Dominion Voting Systems had rigged their machines to flip votes from Trump to Biden and that it was part of an international communist plot to steal the election for the Democrats. She urged using National Guard troops to seize machines for evaluation.
Soon, the four conspiracy theorists would argue loudly with White House attorneys brought into the meeting about whether their proposals to have troops seize ballots was legal or wise.
Byrne wrote that his group argued that if serious problems were found in the six problem counties, then Trump had power to “have those six states re-counted. Or he might have 50 states recounted on livestream TV by federal forces, and America would finally have its answer to, ‘How much election fraud does our nation suffer?’ Or he might skip that and have the National Guard re-run the elections in those six states.”
Byrne added that his group argued Trump had to act quickly or “the alternative was an election that 47% of Americans doubted, which would not go down peacefully.”
Byrne wrote that the meeting was heated with many raised voices, and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone insisted what they were proposing was illegal, and the news media would tear Trump apart if he attempted it.
Axios reports that Byrne, “wearing jeans, a hoodie and a neck gaiter, piped up with his own conspiracy: ‘I know how this works. I bribed Hillary Clinton $18 million on behalf of the FBI for a sting operation.” [Byrne said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune that he brought it up later as his group was headed out of the White House].
Axios reported, “Herschmann stared at the eccentric millionaire. ‘What the hell are you talking about? Why would you say something like that?’ Byrne brought up the bizarre Clinton bribery claim several more times during the meeting to the astonishment of White House lawyers.”
Axios said Trump was also perplexed with Byrne’s statement, but told his staff, “You guys are offering me nothing. These guys are at least offering me a chance. They’re saying they have the evidence. Why not try this?’”
Byrne and Axios reported that the meeting eventually shifted to the White House residential area in hopes that Powell and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani could find a way there to work together on Powell’s proposals.
Curiously, both reports focus on how Byrne was feasting on meatballs brought in as a refreshment in the residential area, while everyone else ignored them except Trump.
“How often does one sit with a president serving meatballs from his grandmother’s recipe? And they were good. For the rest of the meeting there were two and only two people eating meatballs: myself, scarfing them down like popcorn, and occasionally the president,” Byrne wrote.
Byrne said his group believed that after hours in the second meeting in the residence, “President Trump was decisively onboard, and none of the other parties pushed back.” However, Byrne said they later learned that a plan to appoint Powell as a special White House counsel to pursue their plans would not happen.
Byrne said in an interview on Tuesday that he never voted for Trump and has criticized him, but felt the election was being stolen — so he joined efforts to overturn that and joined in trying to convince Trump to keep fighting.
“The core principle of our system is consent of the governed as determined by elections that are free, fair and transparent. I do not think this election was free, fair and transparent, so I’m doing something,” Byrne said.
Byrne resigned as CEO of Overstock in 2019, after its stock dropped when he said he had a romantic relationship with alleged Russian spy Maria Butina while acting as an informant for the FBI and helping with probes into possible Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.