Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock founder, billionaire, and man who took on the worst of Wall Street around 2005 (and won) has written up — for history’s sake what he saw during the wild weeks of the Election that just unfolded. Byrne is also an award winning business, investigative journalist, in 2008 Deepcapture.com was voted the best journalism regarding corruption in the US.
History scholars will be reading it for years to come, assuming there still are history scholars.
by Patrick Byrne
The Trump war room was not exactly what Byrne expected.
I should explain what I expected to find. I expected to find a command post staffed by lawyers and quants. The quants would be doing the statistical work, driving answers that would feed lawyers being notified of the research into such irregularities as I have walked through previously, and would be availing themselves of whatever remedies the law surely provided. I figured there would be a war-board, with the states in question having boxed out all relevant data, progress, and to-do’s. There would be an information loop, obviously, such that the campaign headquarters in each state would be on a daily conference call to receive updates on progress. Thinking that may be a fair bit for one 76-year-old gentleman to manage, I imagined Rudy might have some strong COO, perhaps a lawyer, or perhaps an executive, who might be keeping assignments on track.
What I found is this:
The place was 20% empty, and another 30% were packing out their desks.
One conference room held a large number of lawyers around a table. At least 3 of them were good. These lawyers were the mules of the operation. They were each assigned one or more states. Yet there were things going on at the state level or below, bubbling up organically, and local lawyers jumping in filing actions. I came to learn that between Rudy’s legal team and the campaign staff there was 0 communication, even though they jointly occupied 2/3 of an office story. And between the campaign staff and the activities of those local groups and their lawyers, there was also 0 communication. I did not know if that was for a legal reason or just the way they operated. In time, I came to realize it was the latter.
Byrne details his interactions with Sidney Powell, and Rudy Guiliani and another person he refers to as “the Mediocrity”. In the wash Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell come off as sharp and productive, but sadly — not so Guiliani. Byrne had his own team crunching numbers, statistics and drilling through data. But he was unable to convey the import or significance of that to Guiliani no matter how hard he tried. The descriptions of him fighting the last war, and with several scotches too many, are hard to read. It would have been a pressure cooker atmosphere. And if Guiliani, or Trump himself, had had the right powerhouse deputy, perhaps the good plan might have rolled. Instead the clock ran out, the plan was unplayed. It may just be that the priority list was stacked badly, the cards were played in the wrong order, and the best and biggest play was missed while people waited for the Intelligence Report that didn’t quite come, or the resolution of any case, or the almost-maybe-nearly best option of the State Legislatures overturning their own certifications — and we know those state legislatures were calling for sessions at the last minute to reconsider as the Capital Hill vote unfolded on January 6. Too little too late, though Mike Pence could have given that a chance.
Byrne’s thoughts on Rudy Guiliani:
I feared overwhelming him, so I tried to simplify. As I spoke he occasionally grunted stoically, and it was difficult to judge what was sinking in. After about 10 minutes Rudy started checking his multiple phones for texts, right in front of me as we sat together. Conversing with one of his assistants, sending someone on a side errand, or receiving a report back. It felt rather strange to be talking to a man who was paying so little attention…
Giuliani was still fighting the last war…
There was chaos in the office as well, a S***-show as Byrne describes it. But one telling paragraph suggests that Bryne found out later, that before he even arrived, Guiliani had already decided that they wouldn’t be trying election fraud in any of their cases:
Rudy had declared, “You can never prove election fraud in a courtroom!” and had insisted that it was not going to be part of their legal strategy. The strategy was going to be to challenge things on procedural grounds: “This county in this state had one set of rules, this other county in that same state used a different set of rules, that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14 Amendment.”
And probably, in past elections where games with electronic machine had not played a large role, there may not have been grounds to win a case in the past. But this time might have been different.
That Friday afternoon, November 6, the first time I arrived there just days after the election, I had, in fact, stumbled in on Sidney just as she was recovering from that exchange. And Sidney had sent me to talk to Rudy because she needed someone else to explain what she was herself just realizing: a new form of election fraud had emerged that was not about hundreds of dead people voting in some city but was about the possibility of several hundreds of thousands of votes being injected into each of several certain locations. Rudy had just not been processing any of it from her, and probably did no better from me, and that was why he kept trying to talk with me about how Joe Frazier (1944- 2011) was still voting in Philadelphia.
Though, it has to be said that the US judicial system might not have dealt well with that kind of case anyhow.
Sidney Powell understood:
I found Sidney was well-informed, open-minded, and it became clear she was on top of things. In short, she was an equal with whom I could have an intelligent conversation. … she understood what we were saying, and we quickly tied things into what she already knew. It was a highly-productive first conversation, and she ended it by telling me that I needed to go to the other side of the office, find Rudy Giuliani, and immediately tell him everything I had just shared with her.
Byrne has a team of cyber-heads who “enjoy geeking-out to each other in technical acronyms”. He calls them dolphin speakers. He also came across one member of the team who was so counter-productive, Byrne refers to him only as The Medocrity. To get an idea of how dysfunctional things were at times, there’s the story of the one-page explanation. After trying to convey his team’s math and stat analysis the junior staffers in Rudy’s office insisted he provide a one page explanation. “With bullet-points”, “and graphs and data”, but “no more than one page!”
Byrne spent hours distilling the dolphin-speak of the quants to produce a one-pager to try to get through to Guiliani. But when it came time to deliver it, it was 11pm at night, Guiliani was on the third scotch, the the Mediocrity was at the table (but Byrne was not allowed to be). The Mediocrity joked about the one-pager: “can you believe … this is all he wrote”. That was the night before one of the Big Press Events — the one which became the running hair-dye day in the news. Guiliani talked at length about all the usual well known forms of fraud, but Sidney Powell was meant to discuss the new epidemic of electronic and systematic problems.
As Byrne says of Guiliani, “Nine hours earlier, he had had nine shots of whiskey in under 90 minutes.”
Chaos and obstacles from within and without
Byrne writes of chaos where opposing lawyers intimidated Trumps legal team, and Trumps lawyers pulled out. Their behaviour was so unprofessional, the opposing lawyer pulled out too. At the last minute the Trump team found a stand-in lawyer, and cases were filed, but they didn’t mention election fraud.
Rudy’s team sent an emergency request for Byrne to fly his cyber guys to Georgia so they could analyze some machines. Apparently all the legal details, the locations was all sorted. But when Byrne sent his team who were given the run around, driven from place to place, never quite getting the right machines, the right paperwork, or to see the right people. No doubt the deep state was being as unhelpful as possible. Rudy’s team perhaps would have to have had superhuman organisation.
As Byrnes team were driven away they saw 17 police cars drive past to enter the building they had just left. Seventeen.
But witnesses, volunteers and help was flooding in
In the weeks after the election Patrick Byrne was deluged with offers of help and information. Somehow people gathered in to clusters and groups and found a way to reach him from across the country. These were the whistleblowers and witnesses. None wanted to be paid. Byrne covered expenses and flew many across the nation. He was fashioning what he expected to find in Rudy’s office. There were so many they set up operations in hotels scattered across Washington. People with a military background created a system to gather stories and summaries which were fed up a chain of analysts.
On Michael Flynn and spies:
Conversing with Mike was like meeting and speaking with another entrepreneur: we finished each other’s sentences and saw what needed to be done almost without conversing.
Michael Flynn was head of the intelligence agencies in the US. He immediately ordered the whole team out of Washington DC and into the countryside. Though Byrne found a a variety of odd people with no discernible role, who “gave him the creeps”. One man promised to pass on three messages for Byrne, but could remember none of them 2 seconds after declaring he “got em all”. Another women made up excuses for hanging around, got caught, and eventually admitted she was working for someone else. After they left a wired device was found in one of the key room.
The Mediocrity had evolved into our point of contact with Rudy’s team, and nothing seemed to flow well. On November 26, Thanksgiving Day, we were all sitting together in a restaurant in DC, and discussing their problems. Sitting there eating our turkey dinner, they gave me quite an earful. How the Mediocrity was super-controlling about information, plans, access. How the Mediocrity seemed to think they were peons, were telling them, “Go here, go there,” with no explanatory information, no sense of “Hey teammates, this is what is going on, and we are going to work on it together!”
The Mediocrity had told them all to go to Antrim County in Michigan in two days. Patrick had many questions about the why’s and wherefores, but the Mediocrity turned up and stood over them at late Thanksgiving Dinner and replied abstrusely:
“First, what is your corporate structure?”
We all looked at each other, male and female, 75, Weaponized Autism and others, not previously having given the matter much thought. We were just a bunch of people who had found each other and were trying to expose what looked like a world-historic election fraud together. Finally I said, “Our corporate structure is that we’re the Bad News Bears. I’m team coach.”
“Ok Patrick,” Mediocrity continued. “Here’s what’s going on. I’ve told you where you need to be in Michigan on Saturday. Be there. Or tell us you cannot, and we’ll find someone who can.”
Whereupon there was some determined talking over the top of each other til the Mediocrity blinked, and Byrne hit back:
I politely said, “Where in the f— do you get off? We don’t work for you. We are volunteers here offering to help you do things you have no clue how to do. Go find someone else anytime you want. The way you people work in this city is astonishing. If you ever try to work at a modern company like Google, or Facebook, your ass will be fired in a New York minute. You suck.”
I saw Mediocrity was crestfallen, and realizing I had overdone it, I gently escorted Mediocrity away from the table. I tried to soothe things over a bit, and put a nice façade on things, and not leave Mediocrity embarrassed. As we parted, Mediocrity turned to me and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll be with the President. I’ll make sure you get full credit for all of this.”
Exasperated, I returned to my seat and friends.
It will turn out the The Mediocrity and Rudy Guiliani were key gatekeepers controlling the information flow to the White House. Byrne got Guiliani’s number that night (Thanksgiving), but though he called, he never got through. So the future of the West was at a critical juncture and it hung heavily on three people in their mid seventies. Ultimately the boss chooses the staff. Trump’s greatest flaw might be his loyalty. No doubt Guiliani would have his own version of events, and always came across as a knowledgeable wise man in his videos. It could be argued that if Pence had not folded on Jan 6, and one state decertified their Democrat electors, that others may have flipped like dominoes. On January 5th both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were asking for time to hold another vote. 88 legislators from 5 states were asking for a delay. But it was all so late, so last minute. This was a new war, a different battle, with spies, threats, strong personalities, extreme stakes and above all — with deadlines approaching at mach speed. And all the while the Deep Swamp was working to make nothing easy for the Trump team. It would bring out the worst of many people.
February 5, 2021 at 01:20PM