When it comes to peculiar characters, 2020 election edition, few people had this guy on their bingo card: The former chief executive of online furniture retailer Overstock, Patrick Byrne.

Byrne, set to speak with the January 6 committee on Friday, was present at a contentious White House meeting days before Christmas in 2020 with then-President Donald Trump and members of his staff, in which Byrne, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Trump lawyer Sidney Powell made the case that the election had been stolen and they needed to recount ballots in at least six states. They also discussed deploying the National Guard to seize voting machines.

Days before that meeting, Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have affected the outcome of the election.

On December 18, 2020, the group showed up at the White House undaunted. They didn’t have an appointment, but gained access thanks to a junior staffer and ultimately walked straight into the Oval Office, where they found a private audience with Trump. They had a short period of time alone with him, during which they presented their case. Before long, they were interrupted by several White House officials, including then-counsel Pat Cipollone.

“I bet Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record,” Powell said in testimony to the January 6 committee about how fast he showed up.

Cipollone was not happy with the group he found. “The Overstock person, I’ve never met, I never knew who this guy was,” said Cipollone in his testimony. “Actually, the first thing I did, I walked in, I looked at him, and I said, ‘Who are you?’”


It turns out that Byrne had been actively involved for months in efforts to uncover fraud and prove that the election had been stolen, according to a book he self-published called The Big Rig, as well as lengthy blog posts on his site DeepCapture.com and an hour-long video. (A self-proclaimed libertarian, Byrne says he did not vote for Trump.)

Byrne, 59, has a long history of hawking conspiracy theories and becoming embroiled in controversy. The son of an insurance tycoon who turned around Geico in the 1970s and attracted an investment from Warren Buffett, Byrne earned a philosophy doctorate from Stanford while battling three bouts of testicular cancer and wrote his dissertation on the virtues of limited government. He and his brother then began doing deals financed by their dad, buying up bankrupt hotels, strip malls, apartment buildings and distressed consumer debt.

In 1999, he bought a discount retailer, renamed it Overstock and began scooping up inventory from bankrupt dot-coms and selling it at discounts online. Three years later, the company’s revenue hit $92 million and he took it public. When the stock tanked, Byrne blamed it on an illegal practice called naked short-selling. He embarked on a yearslong crusade, ranting in one call with investors that hedge funds, journalists and regulators were conspiring to push down the company’s stock price under the direction of some faceless menace he called the “Sith Lord.”

Byrne later became enamored with blockchain technology, spending hundreds of millions of Overstock’s money to invest in more than a dozen blockchain startups. In 2019, he resigned from Overstock after his romantic relationship with accused Russian spy Maria Butina came to light. Byrne says he was a federal informant in her investigation, and had been feeding information to the “Men In Black” since 2015.

In the summer of 2020, Byrne was recovering from spinal surgery when he says a friend paid him a visit at his home in Utah and piqued his interest in election fraud. He told him he should get involved with a group that was looking into suspicious activity in the 2018 Dallas election and believed there was potential for election fraud on a much wider scale, according to Byrne’s book.

Byrne threw himself into the subject. He says he spent the next several months speaking with cybersecurity experts and hackers, learning about the ways in which electronic voting machines could be vulnerable to foul play and foreign interference.

By the time election night came, Byrne was on the lookout for signs of fraud. He says he approached Sidney Powell in mid-November with information on election fraud. He then relayed that information to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at her direction, he says.

Days later, Giuliani spoke at a press conference during which hair dye ran down his face as he made allegations of widespread voter fraud. When Powell stepped to the microphone, she blamed communists in Cuba and Venezuela, left-wing billionaire George Soros and the Clinton Foundation for a plot to ensure Trump did not win the presidency. (The White House distanced itself from her after that.)

All the while, Byrne says he continued to spend time in D.C. and remained in communication with Powell, who introduced him to Flynn. In December, Byrne says the trio decided to “crash” the White House to try and get their message to Trump. Aides said the meeting became “unhinged” with shouting and insults being hurled between the conspiracy theorists and the White House legal team. The confab lasted until after midnight, ultimately ending in the president’s living quarters, known as the “Yellow Oval,” where Byrne says Swedish meatballs were served and he was “scarfing them down like popcorn.”

Hours after their meeting, Trump called on protesters to join him in the nation’s capital, tweeting: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Byrne says he continued to try and get in front of Trump again, even flying down to Mar-a-Lago over the holidays, but he was turned away by security after showing up in a beat-up Toyota Corolla Uber ride and yoga clothes.


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