See note at end: Your vote needed.
I know the origin of the Russian Collusion story from its inception in July 2015 (it did not start in July 2016: that is a cover-up), and I know something highly significant regarding the corruption of a (former) senior federal official. I know this because of some fishy interactions I had with the FBI from July 2015 until Spring of 2017, including some extremely fishy requests and reactions from them. I did not come forward until two months ago because, once the Russian story emerged as a national political story in late 2017, I began expecting investigators would come tap me on the shoulder to find out what I knew. I waited, but they never did.
In December 2017 I was having lunch at the White House with General HR McMaster. As we parted he asked me, “What do you think of this crazy Russian scandal?” To my dying day I will always regret that I did not tell him, “Sir, I know a lot about it.” I regret that I did not because I might have saved our nation two years of anguish. Instead, I bit my tongue: I was in a White House under federal investigation, I had had a hand in the investigation, and the right thing to do was unclear. In the distant past I have been scolded by Men in Black for thinking for myself, and knowing the importance of the matters at hand, I thought the best thing was to play things completely by the book. I hesitated, shrugged, gave a non-committal answer, and took my leave. It was a terrible error.
In any case, I was confident those seeking the truth would be in contact with me sooner or later. The months ticked by: 2018 January, February, March…. I became concerned: how could people looking into these matters not have come across me and contacted me already? April 2018, no contact. May 2018, with the nation starting to go mad, I began to think the right thing for me to do was to come forward to someone. The question was, To whom? There clearly was something nefarious afoot, and I did not know who was to be trusted and who not. Maybe it meant, “Going to the DOJ,” but with Jeff Sessions at the helm, and Rod Rosenstein…? The hell with that. Mueller had once been a distant hero of mine, but the fact that he had not contacted me already was disturbing (for reasons that are either already clear or will become so). I thought of going back to the White House, but knew that would be jumping into a washing machine. I thought about going to the press, but in 2005-2008, when I knew that the savings of America were being looted, had the details, and knew the system was going to melt down in a settlement crisis (precisely as Greenspan later testified), I had turned to the press and discovered of what a grab-bag of disappointing ass-clowns they are: a decade later I was not going to repeat that mistake.
In June 2018 I went to see a famous Republican lawyer in Washington, to ask him to help me come forward to someone. He listened to five minutes of my story and said, “Patrick, I can tell you now that I am not taking you to see anyone. You are out of your mind: if you come forward you are going to go to prison for the rest of your life. You are going home, you are keeping your mouth shut. That’s all you are going to do.” I suggested to him we go see Mueller. He told me, “This Mueller investigation is like nothing we have ever seen in America. He is a prosecutor on a tirade, and he will bury you if you come forward to him.”
A month later, in July 2018, I was in Atlantic City to give a talk on blockchain. That night, YouTube served me up some clips of Congressional hearings of senior FBI officials getting grilled. While flipping through them I came across one of a man of whom I had never heard, “Peter Strzok”. He used words that made everything click: I was watching the man who had been the source of the fishy requests I received from late 2015 until Spring of 2017.
As I have explained in an earlier post, I did not vote for Trump, and from the day he came down the escalator and announced his candidacy he was not my cup of tea stylistically (though I often find myself in agreement with him on policy). Still, when I watched those Congressional hearings, I started feeling like I was watching the kind of thing I have witnessed in the Middle East and across the Third World: the politicization of law enforcement and national security. All the pieces fell into place for me, and it became clear to me that I had been tricked into being used in a soft-coup.
Within 30 minutes I had a jet arranged to take me at first light to Washington, DC. I did this for two reasons. First, clearly I had a duty to go and tell someone in Washington what I knew. Second, I realized that I had a problem because the Deep State had a problem: somewhere in America that night, there were people saying, “That son-of-a-bitch Byrne now has enough missing pieces to put the whole puzzle together.” So I needed to get to Washington, DC and tell someone what I knew. Perhaps doing so would reduce the chances that I would get iced. But as importantly, I had to leave things so that if I did get iced, they would know where to investigate.
The next morning, I was standing in a SCIF (a special room shielded from electronic surveillance) telling a noted and highly-respected politician, along with a senior military officer from the Special Operations community, precisely what was going on. I only had 55 minutes to do so, and I knew my story sounded crazy: for that reason I gave them as many names and dates as I could, so if I disappeared, they would know where to start digging. Among the things I told them was the truth about Maria Butina, of whom they had only a vague idea. I told them that she would turn out to be central to the Russian Collusion story. We left things that they would subpoena me, then I could come forward and reveal what I knew.
Four days later Maria Butina was arrested. I waited for my subpoena, but it never came. August, September…. I checked every day for my subpoena, hoping for it, but it never came. I found out later that they were not able to subpoena me because, with Maria’s arrest, I had become a possible witness, and Congress cannot subpoena someone who may be a witness in an ongoing criminal matter.
In late October, 2018, about 14 days before the election of 2018, a federal officer came to Utah to deliver the following message:
Patrick, you need to understand that there are billionaires walking around this world that we made, and we are prepared to do the same for you. You just have to stay calm, you just have to stay quiet…. Through the election.
Within a day or two I was on a flight back to Washington, DC. This time I had in the SCIF that same politician, the same senior figure from the SOCOM community, and in addition a senior figure from within the DIA. They let me know that they knew I was not a crazy off the street (though I had sounded that way when we had met three months previously), due to the arrest of Maria days after I had met them the first time, along with the fact that they had been able to check out some of the things I had told them in our first meeting. This time I walked them through a great deal more, including the comment about “billionaires walking around this world that we made” just one or two days previously. They told me that, as sad and unbelievable as it sounded, there was absolutely no one to whom to turn. We needed to wait until there was a real Attorney General, they said, and then I could come forward.
Because I was on the East Coast anyway, a few days later I flew up to see my Mom, who had turned 86 a few weeks previously, and who lives alone in New Hampshire, to tell her the story I wrote above.
Since the story I am about to tell may be implausible to those that do not know my Ma, I would like to flashback briefly on her in three stories:
- Sandy Gottesman, whom Warren Buffet calls, “the best stock-picker in America,” was once my boss (1992-1993). He knew both my parents (my father died in 2013) and told me, “Patrick, most people go through life hoping to win the lottery once. You won it twice the day you were born. You won the Connecticut State Lotto in your dad. But you won the Irish Sweepstakes in drawing the mother you did.”
- Sometime in around 1995 or 1996, when I was 34 years old, a private equity fund offered me a package that would have amounted to a pay-off of about $25 million, to lead what was called, “ a roll-up IPO”. A roll-up IPO is when a private equity fund buys a few dozen mom-and-pop businesses (such as, for example, mom-and-pop propane distributors). The fund stitches them together into one firm, creates a headquarters that centralizes such corporate functions as payroll, buying, and advertising, thereby eliminating duplicate expenses, then goes public as one entity. I was 34 years old, running a small industrial torch manufacturer in New Hampshire with about 25 employees. The chance to step up and make $25 million for a few years’ of work sounded attractive.
As is my custom, I wrote up a description of the decision I was facing and sent it to Buffett. A few days later he called me. Though normally he teaches via the Socratic method, this call was unusually succinct.
“Don’t do it Patrick,” he said.
Why not? His first set of reasons dealt with the nature of “roll-up IPOs”. “They are scams,” he said. He explained that the alleged efficiencies of creating centralized corporate departments rarely materialized: when one went from having mom-and-pop doing things, to having a centralized corporate headquarters perform the same function, “You are lucky if together they stay anywhere close to as efficient as they were when it was just mom-and-pop running things,” he explained. But primarily, he continued, all they really are about is buying up earnings streams at 4-6 times cash flow, and selling them to the public for 10 X cash flow. “You are just promoting the public. Don’t have anything to do with things like that.”
I got it. His objection was a moral objection. I thought I was consulting him about it simply as a business opportunity, and had not understood that the question even had a moral dimension to it. I had simply bought the explanation of roll-up IPOs the private equity fund had given me.
Buffett concluded with a point I will never forget. “Patrick, I want you to remember something for the rest of your life. Whenever you are faced with a moral dilemma, ask yourself what your mother would do. Not your father, but your mother. Your mom would not touch something like this with a ten-foot pole. Your dad would just ask for more stock options.”
- As reporters never tire of bringing up to me, my Pop stood against me during my fight with Wall Street in 2005-2008. When the entire rest of the world was standing against me, he went out of his way to give an interview to the Wall Street Journal where he dissed me publicly.
Interestingly, not once has a reporter asked me what my mother thought. It is time I tell the world.
When in 2006 the WSJ article appeared with my father dissing me, my mom called me up that very day. Speaking to me in a tone of voice I had never heard before, so angry and venomous was it, “Is this thing you are saying true, that somewhere in America grandmothers are eating dog food for dinner because Wall Street is stealing from them? And that the system is going to collapse?”
Startled, I thought for a moment then said, “Mom, I am certain of it.”
With a venom like I had never heard in my Mom’s voice, she said, “Then don’t you consider yourself a-member-of-my-family, do not consider yourself my son… if you back out of this fight. Do not even consider us related, if you quit. If-you-back-down-you-are-not-my-son.”
She went on to say, “I am so angry with your father I am not going to speak to him for a month.” Giving that he was then dying of cancer and largely bedridden, this was no small thing. And she stayed true to her word: my father spent the next month having meals brought to him by someone else, and my mom did not speak to him.
Now to return to what happened in 2018 with my mom. Once I had seen Peter Strzok on television in July 2018, and realized what I had been used in, I went to New Hampshire and started to prepare her that there was a nasty scandal going on in which I would emerge. Either it was going to eat its way to me, or I was going to go public and expose it. So I sat her down in August, 2018 and explained to her that I had cooperated with federal authorities a couple times in my life, and let her in on enough of the story so she would not have a heart attack if and when she read about it in the papers. Characteristically, her concern was for “that poor Russian girl,” Maria Butina, who (whether she was Mata Hari, or an idealistic kid, or something in between) had clearly had been the target of a stitch-up by the federal government (who had known about her from the day she arrived, watched her, let it all happen, and to some degree engineered it through me), and who was then sitting in a box the size of a shower stall (for what I was hoping would be only a week or two, but ultimately would turn into a sentence of 18 months).
Then in late October, 2018 came this thing about “billionaires walking around this world that we made, and we are prepared to do the same for you… You just have to stay calm, you just have to stay quiet… through the election.” I went to Washington, DC and told three high-level people in government about it, then I went up to New Hampshire and sat with her. I walked her through it. That was the second time in my life I heard that venomous, angry voice from my mother.
She jumped to her feet (at 86) and began jabbing a finger in front of my face. Barely able to keep from retching, she said, “I–would–be-so-insulted. Who did you tell?! Who did you tell?!?!”
Suddenly I was an 8 year old again, backed up by my mom. “Who did I tell? What? I – uh – I – I told – I -– wh-what do you mean?” I said.
“Well you told someone, right?” She spat out at me. Seething, she said, “You didn’t take it, did you?”
I was so shocked, it took me a moment to calibrate enough to realize what she was saying. “Are you kidding? Of course not. I got on a plane and went to Washington and told a Congressman and two Army colonels about it.”
“Good. OK,” she said, somewhat mollified, but she stalked off seething. Only then did I get where she was coming from. She was asking if I had taken a billion dollars to betray the USA. It still surprises me, actually, that she asked. I suppose that is the way of mothers: they are never off-duty.
I could pass a lie detector on this claim: that moment, which was about 7 days after the offer was made, was the first time the thought crossed my mind, You know Patrick, you could just say, “Yes.” With 100% honesty I can say the thought never occurred to me until Ma demanded that answer.
What had occurred to me? From the moment I heard the offer, I had one and only thought running through my mind:
I. Got. You. I – got – you. I got you….you motherfuckers. I GOT you. I have searched for you for 13 years, I spent half my fortune, but I got you motherfucks cold. And I am going to help them blowtorch your goddamn world.
What I meant by that is going to have to wait until the DOJ acts.
I am going to leave a poll up on Twitter asking you to vote whether you believe this story or not. I know it’s true, and don’t need any validation. I am curious to understand how the public mind works, though.