Patrick Byrne: How Trump Lost the White House: Christmas Doldrums. The sixth excerpt from Patrick Byrne’s fascinating account of what was happening on the inside of the effort to appeal the 2020 election. Earlier excerpts here, here, here, here and here. Next here.
Visit to Mar-o-Lago over Christmas:
I was alone in DC over Christmas, but I got a call from someone in the Trump orbit. The caller told me that I should get down to Florida, to somewhere near Mar-o-Lago, and it was being arranged that I could have another short meeting with Trump, maybe as little as 10 minutes. Because I was by then thoroughly convinced he was not listening to sound people and was missing the Big Picture in some ways, I seized the invitation, and went from DC to Florida to a hotel just a few miles away from Mar-o-Lago. I checked in, and awaited contact. …
I hung out a … few days, waiting for things to be cleared up. They never were. But over those days, I was there on the periphery of the Mar-a-Largo crowd and the hundreds of Republican Pooh-Bah families that were down together for the holidays occupying most of the surrounding hotels. Swimming as I was on the periphery of the Republican Party bigwigs and its movers-and-shakers, I got a sense for the gestalt of it all.
There were some terrific young people, intellectuals who could have deep conversations about ideas as well as events. There was a woman of my age or slightly older, a former executive at a Fortune 50 company, retired, who was exceedingly strong, capable, and intelligent.
Then as far as I could tell, the rest were riff-raff. Rich riff-raff, no doubt: shiny-car riff-raff, loud and obnoxious riff-raff, self-centered riff-raff, dilettantes and poseurs and grifters of one variety or another, with Plastic Fantastic wives and husbands and doily children whining publicly about whatever subject or thing they felt deprived. People for the most part I would not be inclined to piss on if they were on fire. What I did not see were believers, people who had a vision…. Or anyone with a plan. …
On to Georgia:
In Georgia, I stayed at the home of some people who were involved in this effort. That is when I first met Jovan Pulitzer (though there had been communication for weeks between my cyber-colleagues and Jovan).
Also present was a senior Microsoft security expert. This is the man who had found the situation in a counting operation in Savanah, Georgia: a tabulating machine turned out to have a wireless card in it, on the wall there was a Smart Thermostat, and that thermostat had connected wirelessly to the vote counting machine. Further research had confirmed that someone from China Telecom had come through the Internet onto the Smart Thermostat in order to connect to the machine.
The cybersecurity expert spent the rest of the evening telling us about the shocking vulnerabilities in the election machines, their tendency to run on Operating System software that was 10-15 years old, and in general, how the technology was Swiss Cheese. We sat up past midnight cataloging vulnerabilities.
At 3 AM on New Year’s Day I received a text from General Flynn. He was still up working as well. He sent me photos that were then flashing around social media: down in Mar-a-Lago, Rudy and others from the entourage had rung in the New Year with a bang. Photos of Rudy, Don Jr., and Kimberly Gilfoyle drinking champagne, dancing, and Partying Like It’s 1999 were circulating through social media. Again, Flynn and I shared a moment of exasperated silence. …
FBI gets rid of evidence of fraud, possibly with help from White House insiders:
On New Year’s Day I was in the laboratory of the federally certified forensic document examiner … Two of the ballots were printed in one print shop, the other was printed in a different print shop using different paper, different ink, and a different printing method. It being highly unlikely that the county had ordered its ballots from two different print shops, this was indicative that at least one of the ballots was a counterfeit. …
Our Man in Georgia had the warehouse in Atlanta under observation. Bums with telephoto lenses were filming. With permission, I put out on Twitter a brief description of what we had found. Hours later, rented Enterprise moving vans pulled up to the warehouse, and pallets of ballots were moved into it.
The next day, a shredding company in a neighboring county got a phone call to pick up an assignment to shred. The truck pulled up, and loaded approximately 3,000 pounds of ballots. It has been confirmed to me that the order was paid for by someone with a credit card from “Dominion Voting”. The shredding truck pulled away. Through a mechanism I will not explain, that shredding truck was intercepted, its work stopped, and ultimately 10,000 pounds of shredded material was dumped out on the floor of a local police station, so there would be a chain-of-evidence. Roughly 3,000 pounds of the shredded material was the ballots (the other 7,000 was from prior customers).
The shredding that had been order by the Dominion Voting employee had not been normal shredding (turning things into long strips); it had not been the special shredding (turning the material into confetti); it had been the super-duper military-grade shredding, where the ballots had been shredded then crushed down to spitballs.
An Atlanta DHS agent arrived and took command. A discovery was made: some of the shredded ballots had not been completely shredded. In fact, a few had stuck to the walls of the bin, and were whole. Also found, I was told, were receipts and shipping labels from the outside of the boxes that held the ballots: these receipts and shipping labels were from a Chinese print shop in the south of China. The DHS agent acquired all of these (and that particular agent is one with an expertise in matters Chinese, I am told).
Call that moment, “T = 0”. Based on the continuous reports I was receiving from Atlanta, here is how the next two days unfolded:
- T + 6 hours: Rudy Giuliani was informed of what was going on;
- T + 9 hours: Mark Meadows was informed of what was going on
- T + 18 hours: FBI arrived on the scene to take over. DHS resisted.
- T + 24 hours: I received a message that the DHS agent in question was highly uncomfortable with the political pressure he was receiving. If I understood correctly, he was saying that Mark Meadows himself (Chief of Staff of the White House) had called him and told him to back off the investigation. It was not clear to me whether I was receiving the message just as a bystander, or the DHS agent was deliberately causing that message to come to me, in the incorrect hope I could do something about it (e.g., get it to the President).
- T + 36 hours: The FBI took control of the operation. They instructed the shredding company to come back, and told them to pick up the 10,000 pounds of material, complete the shredding, then continue with their normal procedures. That meant the shredded material was mixed with water and acid, melted, then reconstituted as recycled paper.
Various aspects of the story I told above are documented in photos and film. …
Death threats to Melania:
In those days of swimming around with people who were in various proximities to the President, I was told something by someone very much in Trump’s inner circle.
What I was told was this: Melania had been warned by a government official that if Trump served another term he would be JFK’ed.
It may even have been someone in the Secret Service itself, in a “We will not be able to protect him” sense. The threat included another family member as well, per the telling. I find it hard to believe that anyone in the Secret Service itself would ever say that, but the source of the information to me had otherwise been blemishless, and the claim was that whoever (perhaps Secret Service, perhaps someone else) had said this to Melania, it was someone from whom such a claim would be taken seriously.
Melania was begging Donald not to fight, and simply to concede and get out of Washington with his family. …
Lesson from Moldova (an ex Soviet Republic near Romania):
I had been there a few years earlier, and a barman had told me of the 2009 election.
Election fraud had caused a pro-Putin man to be elected, but the people knew it and had risen up in protests. Putin had sent hundreds of men to drift into the capital of Chisinau, and they had a mission: every time there was a protest, these Putin-guys had infiltrated it with a goal of turning it violent, getting them not just to protest in front of government buildings, but to charge them, break windows, occupy them.
The Moldovans had been too smart for the trick: they knew Putin understood that both sides were playing for an audience, the middle class of Moldova, and if the protesters were able to be provoked into actually storming government buildings it would turn off the middle class and they would lose the support of the masses. The Moldovans had stayed disciplined, refused to let themselves be led astray like that… and eventually the government had succumbed, a new, fair election was held, and the Putin crony lost big. …
January 6, the day of the Certification, the debate on election fraud that never happened, and the Capitol riot:
Mike Flynn and I thought that the morning of January 6 was going to run like this: there would be some speeches on the South Lawn of the White House. He would give a talk as “The People’s General” setting the moment in its historical context. I would talk about the fundamental significance of elections that were free, fair, and transparent, and then tell my Moldova story. Then we would switch to 2-3 of these cyber-ninjas and scientists, who would each talk for 5-10 minutes, explaining the clearest of the irregularities that should trouble the conscience of citizens. I knew from experience that any one of them could speak for 5-10 minutes and cause any thinking person to begin to have grave doubts about the November 2020 election, but I figured that after the three of them speaking, 80% of the viewers around the world would understand why Election 2020 results had to be seriously discounted.
I got a phone call that evening from one of the scientists I expected to speak. He wanted to let me know that he was not coming to DC because he had learned that his speaking slot had been cancelled. I was perplexed, because this scientist was extremely soft-spoken and professorial, and I thought he would be convincing to anyone who listened with an open mind. I wondered whom they had found who could do a better job than he of convincing millions of viewers that they should be deeply skeptical of what happened during the week of November 3.
On the morning of January 6, Flynn and I and a dozen others walked over to the south side of the White House. We were surprised that no special arrangements had been made for us, and we had to fight our way through the throngs. We were both given speakers’ badges, seated in a special section up front…. then learned that our speaking slots had been cancelled. We were perplexed, to put it mildly, wondering whom they could get that would possibly explain the situation as well as we could…
The show started, and soon Flynn and I were sinking into our seats in despair. One of Trump’s children got up and sang “Happy Birthday” to a girlfriend, or boyfriend. Rudy got up and spoke about Joe Frazier voting, again. Another lawyer got up and spoke. Don Jr. got up and with his chest puffed out, strode the stage talking about how the Republican brand was now the Trump brand, or the Trump brand was now the Republican brand, or something about branding.
Around that time, Flynn and I caught eyes and shared looks of horror: it turned out later we were both asking if the other wanted to leave, but misunderstood each other. It was so bad that someone with some sense among the organizers had a change of heart, and came running over to ask General Flynn if he would take the stage: he refused. The shenanigans went on for an hour or more, then Trump appeared and spoke, much as he would at any campaign event or pep rally. In fact, the whole thing was more or less a pep rally: no effort was made to explain to the crowd, to the Americans who were watching at home, to the Senators who would begin voting in an hour, to the world that counts on America to be the leader of free, fair, and transparent elections, what had really gone wrong with the November 2020 election, and why we believed there were deep irregularities demanding investigation. No effort at all.
Instead, it was a pep rally. That’s it. A Trump pep rally.
The moment we could make a break from the front, Flynn and I and everyone with us made a dash for the exit. Flynn could barely contain his fury as we shared impressions: this had been the one last chance to explain the situation to the whole world, and instead Trump had used it as a pep rally. “He just does not get it,” we repeated to each other as we stormed through the crowd back towards the hotel. “He does not get that it is not about him. He put on a fucking pep rally. He does not understand that this is not about him,” we repeated over and over in anger and despair. In 15 minutes we were back at the hotel, both packing our bags, both sick to our stomachs, and did not leave to join the throngs moving towards the Capitol.
Just like climate change. The wrong people dominate the skeptics. They just don’t get it. Which is why they have been so ineffectual, despite having the winning case.
Perhaps Trump was simply misinformed by his lawyers, who in turn were bribed, cajoled and otherwise pressured to sabotage Trump.