Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne testified before the House Select Committee investigating the events on Jan 6, saying he told them that they are “drawing a tiger from a cat.”
During the 8-hour closed-door hearing on Friday, Byrne discussed his key role in a post-election White House meeting where he urged then-President Donald Trump to investigate fraud allegations.
Byrne told The Epoch Times in an interview his testimony covered a wide range of topics—from his meeting with the president on Dec. 18, 2020, to his concerns over the integrity and safety of election equipment.
Byrne was the latest witness to testify in front of the committee. He described the meeting as “surprisingly friendly, cordial, and professional.”
“Notwithstanding the fact that we weren’t going to agree” about the Nov. 3, 2020, election, “we agreed that there was a lot for me to fill in from Nov. 4 until Jan. 7 . I think they seemed to be appreciative,” he told The Epoch Times on July 16.
“They had a lot of questions, and they really did not know the answers, and I was happy to provide them with the answers. I do feel that if they knew the truth about everything, they would understand the truth was different than [what] they were guessing—and significantly more benign.”
The White House Meeting
Byrne had hoped to engineer a meeting with Trump when he used a prior invitation from a staffer to tour the White House with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell. The trio met with Trump in the Oval Office after the president happened to walk by, Byrne told The Epoch Times in an exclusive interview the day before his testimony.
“I was the guy that everyone should be looking into. I’m the guy who pulled that famous meeting together. I’m the guy who presented the options,” he said.
The proposal put forth at the meeting was to have a team of cybersecurity specialists from the Department of Homeland Security go into the six counties where questions of voter fraud had surfaced.
Byrne’s group presented Trump with executive orders signed by former President Barack Obama in 2015 and Trump in 2018 regarding foreign interference in a U.S. election, which they said granted the president authority to launch such an investigation.
“That was the upshot of our discussion,” said Byrne. “That was the cat.”
“I think the tiger they painted was going in with military commandos across the country,” Byrne said, referring to press coverage of a suggestion he said he made to the president to use the National Guard during an investigation. He said the idea was rejected by everyone in the room during the Dec. 18, 2020, meeting.
Byrne cited three federal documents to support his claims, the first being an Oct. 22, 2020, joint advisory by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warning about unauthorized Russian access to IT systems used by U.S. election officials and efforts of Iranian state actors to sow discord among voters.
The second document, an Oct. 30 joint advisory by the same agencies, stated that an Iranian hacker had targeted state election websites to obtain registration data and had succeeded in at least one state.
And the third was a Dec. 16, 2020, statement by the FBI, CISA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the breach of SolarWinds Orion platform.
Rudy Giuliani, a former Trump lawyer and New York City mayor, was called to the White House that Dec. 18 evening to assess the documents and provide his opinion.
“I read through them carefully, I came back, and I said it’s clear to me that there’s not enough [evidence] here,” Giuliani said in his July 14 radio program.
Byrne disputed Giuliani’s response, stating that the documents in question were not affidavits but government documents.
The Militia Member
On the morning of Jan. 5, 2020, the day before protests and riots at the U.S. Capitol, Byrne said he was contacted by a person claiming to be part of a militia, who told him a group of 10,000 people with firearms were “coming in to take the city.”
The committee appeared surprised to hear about the militia, Byrne said.
Byrne said he talked the militia out of the plan after the man expressed a willingness to follow his direction.
“You’re willing to take an order, whatever I say?” Byrne recalled asking the man, who he said agreed.
“Okay. One direction is absolutely not a single weapon,” Byrne said he told the man. “That’s the only thing that will make us lose.”
The Jan. 6 committee at one point asked Byrne if he still believes “the election in 2020 was rigged.”
“I said: ‘Absolutely. I believe our entire election apparatus is untrustworthy,’” he said. “It’s not about Democrats or Republicans.”
“In a friendly way, I think we came to a realization that they’re seeing the world as lawyers, and I’m seeing it as a business person,” Byrne added.
“I think that they may have extended a bit of an olive branch, and I very much reciprocated,” he said. “I hope I found for America an off ramp for the tension that’s brewing.”