Overstock founder flew Proud Boys to rally supporting Trump in days after 2020 election, Jan. 6 committee finds

Patrick Byrne, a close ally of Donald Trump and the former head of the Utah-based internet retailer, covered the cost of a private jet for the ex-chairman of the Proud Boys to gather with prominent, far-right Trump supporters.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne prepares to take the stage at the WeCANact Liberty Conference, held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. Byrne paid for members of the Proud Boys to take a private jet to Washington, D.C., to attend a rally in support of former President Donald Trump in the days after Trump lost the 2020 election.

The founder and former CEO of Utah-based Overstock, Patrick Byrne, paid for a group of Proud Boys to fly to Washington, D.C., on a private jet to attend a rally held in support of Donald Trump in the days following the president’s defeat in the 2020 election, according to the House Jan. 6 committee’s final report.

Among those on the plane was Enrique Tarrio, the then-chairman of Proud Boys. The revelation was cited as having come from a meeting between congressional investigators and Byrne in July. The transcript of that interview is not among those so far released by the Jan. 6 committee.

According to the committee’s report, Tarrio’s presence at the gathering, which took place on Nov. 14, 2020, “provided a chance for Tarrio to socialize with rally leaders and far-right celebrities.” He met “Stop the Steal” leader Ali Alexander, “InfoWars” hosts Alex Jones and Owen Shroyer. In an interview with investigators, Tarrio called a picture he took with the men “historic.”

As the November rally continued into the night, violence erupted and protesters, counter-protesters and police officers were injured, The Washington Post reported. According to the committee report, between 200 and 300 Proud Boys participated in the rally.

Byrne’s purchase of the flight was addressed in the committee’s interview with both Tarrio and Bianca Gracia, the president of Latinos for Trump and a former Republican candidate for the Texas state Senate. Tarrio said Gracia arranged the private jet that took him and several other Proud Boys to Washington. Gracia cited the Fifth Amendment in not answering questions about Byrne.

Byrne, whose Twitter account had been suspended prior to Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media platform, quoted a tweet pointing out the portion of the report that mentions his paying for the flight, saying, “But you say that like it’s a BAD thing.”

Responding to other tweets in the thread, he wrote, “Somebody in DC told me, ‘there are a bunch of patriotic Latinos in Texas who want to come to our rally. Can you send a jet for them?’ I said, ‘sure!’ The entire exchange took about 10 seconds.” He went on to describe the group of Proud Boys who flew on the plane as “Very well-behaved Latinos.”

Byrne did not respond to a request for comment from The Salt Lake Tribune.

The former CEO’s name came up twice more in the committee’s report — once listing him as a “VIP” at a December rally who was guarded by paramilitary group 1st Amendment Praetorian and because Byrne discusses a meeting he had with Trump, attorney Sidney Powell, Trump’s former national security advisor retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and others.

At the meeting, which lasted several hours, the group reportedly argued that Trump had the authority to seize Dominion Voting Systems voting machines as they pushed election fraud conspiracy theories. Committee members previously called the meeting “unhinged.”

Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who was present at the meeting, said in his testimony to the committee, “I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office. The Overstock person — I didn’t know who this guy was. Actually, the first thing I did, I walked in, I looked at him and I said, ‘Who are you?’”

(@PatrickByrne on Twitter) Patrick Byrne at the White House

Cipollone told the committee he did not understand why Byrne was there, and that he didn’t think he was providing Trump with “good advice.” He said he pushed back on the efforts of Byrne and others, that seizing voting machines was a “horrible idea” and that he had seen “no evidence of massive fraud in the election.”

“The Chinese have a song, ‘See cat, paint tiger.’ On Dec. 18, Cipollone saw a cat, and for the Jan. 6 committee he painted a tiger,” Byrne told The Tribune in July.

Dominion Voting Systems is suing Byrne for $1.7 billion for his repeated “false and defamatory statements” that its voting machines helped steal the 2020 election from Trump.

Byrne resigned from his position as the head of Overstock in 2019 citing an alleged romantic relationship he’d had with Russian spy Maria Butina. He claimed he was working as a confidential informant for the FBI.

In response to a tweet including a link of this article, Overstock’s Twitter account on Jan. 4 wrote, “Overstock has no current association/affiliation with Patrick Byrne or his efforts. He resigned and sold his ownership in 2019.”

Update, Jan. 4, 3:50 p.m. • This article has been updated to include comments from a tweet made by Overstock.

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