In a recently disclosed batch of emails, Trump campaign lawyer John Eastman claimed he had met with former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne during the chaotic effort to keep Donald Trump in power following his 2020 election loss.
According to a Jan. 9, 2020 email first obtained by The Denver Post, Eastman was asked by two Colorado business people about a theory pushed by Byrne.
“I have met with Patrick. There is huge relevance to this, and I have actually had very high-level meetings about it,” Eastman responded.
In an exclusive interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Byrne confirmed meeting Eastman but did not think anything important came of their Washington, D.C. meeting
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that he would be saying that. It doesn’t make any sense at all,” Byrne said of Eastman’s characterization of their Jan. 6 meeting. “I met him only one time for about 45 minutes.”
On the evening of Jan. 6, just hours after a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, Byrne says he received a phone call at around 10:30 p.m. from someone close to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Byrne was asked to come to the Willard Hotel to explain his idea for proving or disproving claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election.
“They finally were f------ opening their minds to listening to it,” Byrne said.
Byrne described the meeting in his self-published book, “The Deep Rig.” Aside from Giuliani, he does not name any other participants, only referring to them by nicknames. Byrne confirmed that one of those in attendance was Eastman.
“I go around the table, and I mentioned one of them was a law professor, that was John Eastman. That 45 minutes at that table was the only 45 minutes I ever had with John Eastman,” Byrne told The Tribune.
Before that Jan. 6 meeting, Byrne’s most prominent role in the post-election frenzy was a late-night meeting in the Oval Office on Dec. 18 where he discussed a plan to prove or disprove the claims of election fraud. Byrne says the impromptu meeting happened after he “sort of ninjaed his way” into the White House.
The New York Times reported Byrne, Flynn and Sidney Powell urged Trump to use the military to seize voting machines in several states. But Byrne disputes that account, saying his idea was much more straightforward. He says he proposed examining voting machines and tabulations in six counties to determine if there had been any foreign interference to alter the outcome.
“Three times in that discussion, I said if we don’t find what we expect to find, you’re (Trump) going to have to concede very quickly,” Byrne said. “Each time, he told me how easy that would be to get in the helicopter and fly away.”
Byrne remembers he told Trump they could have an answer about possible foreign interference in short order, but he needed to act quickly so they would be finished when Congress counted the electoral votes on Jan. 6.
“I told the president, ‘you have to pull the trigger on this, and we can get it done. Once Jan. 6 happens, everything’s kind of set in stone constitutionally, and it’s kind of sore loserism from there,’” Byrne said.
According to Byrne’s book, Trump reportedly resurrected his idea of examining voting machines just days before Biden was inaugurated but was told there was not enough time to pursue the plan.
Byrne says he has not spoken to Eastman about his plan since the meeting at the Willard on Jan. 6.
There is no evidence to support claims of foreign election interference or widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Eastman appears to have had several irons in the fire to try reversing Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. He was advising Pennsylvania legislators on how to certify Trump electors even though Biden won the state.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee appeared to be involved in a parallel effort to find alternate slates of Trump electors in battleground states won by Biden. Lee also complained to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that Powell was being kept away from Trump, but later dropped his advocacy after she claimed a vast international conspiracy was responsible for Trump’s loss.
Lee still has not entirely explained his role in the effort to help Trump remain in office following his election loss.
Despite the Eastman nexus post-election, Byrne says he did not have any contact with Lee and hasn’t spoken to him since late 2019.
Byrne and Flynn recently founded The America Project, a nonprofit focusing on election integrity issues.
Byrne has continued to push his theories about election fraud since then. Dominion Voting Systems is currently suing him for $1.73 billion for his repeated claims that the company’s voting machines helped steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump. In April, a federal judge ruled the lawsuit against Byrne could go forward.
Last week, right-wing cable network One America News said there was “no widespread voter fraud” in the 2020 election, which appears to be related to a separate defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, according to the Daily Beast.