Flynn and Sidney left DC to their own worlds for a few days, but I was staying around in DC for the next several days. Before Mike left we had a conversation. I use this opportunity to share a bit more about Mike Flynn.
I knew from people who had worked in the field what Flynn had done to make himself an enemy of the Swamp. When he arrived in Iraq, materials gained in raids were being bundled up in bags, shipped back to Virgina to be “exploited” and analyzed and, a month or two later, useful information sent back to the troops on the front lines. Flynn sees the world like an entrepreneur, and set about to redesign the process, so that exploitation and analysis was done on-base in Iraq, the loop condensed into 18 hours, so that the next night when people went out raiding, they already had the benefit of insights gained from the previous night’s work. Eventually the loop was so tightened that a raid early in the evening in one location was generating materials that were studied through the night, and informing raids that were still being conducted at dawn. People I knew and trusted in the field were telling me that this guy Flynn had his admirers, but he had detractors as well, primarily those comfortable with the ol’ boy approach, disgruntled at the way he was shaking things up and bringing modern ideas into the Intelligence Community’s comfortable way of doing things. As his career progressed Flynn’s divisiveness to the Establishment became legendary, but in my experience, men and women I knew who seemed like bright, chipper, mission-oriented federal employees spoke well of Flynn, and the Mediocrities were the ones who seemed to hate him.
But being with Mike Flynn all those weeks, I learned things about him that were new to me. For example, Mike 61, was a lifelong Democrat, in an Irish Catholic south-of-Boston north-of Providence Jack Kennedy kind of way (not in a modern Lefty, “Let’s shred the Constitution!” kind of way). He is a deep reader of the Constitution, and is one of the few people I know (besides myself) who cites The Federalist Papers by number in conversation. When discussing America’s modern wars, he sounded almost Chomskyan, telling me that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should have ended 15 years ago, but so many hundreds of billions and (eventually) trillions of dollars got flowing to the corporations that supported the wars, and the firms benefiting from that flow of funds had grown so fat, and hired so many lobbyists, that they fought in DC to keep the wars going so that the spigot would stay turned on. We joked to each other that the war was just “another Washington, DC self-licking ice cream cone.”
In other words, “capture”. As happens with my from time to time, I meet someone from a completely different background who has come to recognize the issue that underlies so many of our problems as a nation. That problem is that powerful elites have captured the decision-making cycles of our government, and turned it towards their private ends. The fact that from our different backgrounds and different lifetimes of experience, we had arrived at the same fundamental analysis of what is wrong with our country, told me that I my new trail-buddy was the right guy.
And again, we had a number of conversations along the lines of, “General, what the fuck are we doing here?”
I was to be alone in DC over Christmas, but the day before Christmas I got a call from someone in 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-a-Lago. I checked in, and awaited contact.
Soon I received a call from a reasonably well-known person who is publicly associated with Trump, although I do not know how tight they actually are. With him on the call was a colleague of his, and they were telling me to get over to Mar-a-Lago and ask for “Eileen” (name changed to protect the innocent). I asked for her last name, and was told, “Just get there and ask for Eileen.” I asked for Eileen’s position, or even what area she worked in. I was told, “Just get to Mar-a-Lago as soon as you can, and ask for Eileen.” I replied that I really do not like working that way, that I wanted to know more before I went. Again the reply was adamantly, “Get over to Mar-a-Lago, go to the gate, and ask for Eileen. It has all been arranged.”
With trepidation I got dressed in my best yoga clothes (my others having been sent out for a rare cleaning) to set out for Mar-a-Lago. I called an Uber, and the ride was e a tinny, beat-up Toyota Corolla of some years’ vintage.
When I arrived at the gates of Mar-a-Lago I sent the Corolla on its way. When I approached the Secret Service detail and told them that I was there to see, “Eileen,” the federal agents all looked at each other and shrugged. “Eileen who?” They asked. “I don’t know,” I told them, “I was just told to ask for Eileen.” They again looked at each other with a raised eye. “OK, but Eileen who?” I replied, “I am to have some kind of short meeting with the President, and I was called and told to get here and ask for ‘Eileen’.” Again, they said, “Well whose Eileen?” Again I had to tell them I did not know. The conversation spiraled downhill from there, through no fault of the Secret Service agents. I perhaps did not help the situation when I, noticing that one of the female agents had a light Chinese accent, in an attempt to calm the situation and establish some rapport, began rapping with her in Mandarin. We spoke for a few minutes but it only seemed to increase the nervousness of the other agents. Around that time I began to think it would probably be best simply to disengage and get away, and try to work things out by telephone, but the agents did not seem to like that idea.
Eventually the supervising agent came over. He was one of those fellows whom one meets and knows immediately he is not a guy with whom to screw in any way. Still proper but with a fair bit of aggression, he said, “Back up. Start again. We want to know your story. Who are you and what are you doing here?”
Not knowing where to start, I began this way: “20 years ago I started a company called Overstock.com, my name is -.” He interrupted with a snort, “Yeah right you’re Patrick Byrne.” Suddenly I got it: the shitty Toyota Corolla, my yoga clothes, the Chinese…. I showed my license, and this time it all clicked. And it clicked for me, too, how the activities of Flynn, Sidney and I were drawing attention. I was not fully appreciating until then how much attention there was on what we were doing, but it made sense.
In any case, the Secret Service agents remained cordial, nodded to me, and several said, “Thanks for what you are doing,” as they permitted me to walk off the property, cross a bridge, and get another Uber.
I hung out an additional 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 retired executive from a Fortune 50 company, 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 wining 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 vision…. or a plan.
The day before New Year’s Eve I got a call from Our Man in Georgia. We already knew that in Fulton County (in which Atlanta rests) there was a County Election operation operating out of what was called, “the English Street warehouse”. An Antifa-looking woman had accepted $500 to infiltrate the warehouse, take a bunch of photos, and seize blank ballots from different stacks. Those ballots could be tested forensically.
I lined up two federally-certified forensic document examiners (old-timers in the field) who were willing to work New Year’s Day, and got to Georgia on New Year’s Eve.
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 corporate security expert, the man who had found the situation in a counting operation in Savannah, 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 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 discussing 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.
On New Year’s Day I was in the laboratory of the federally certified forensic document examiner, and one of his colleagues who had driven through the night to be there. They were quiet, professional, and I left them to their work. After an hour they reported: 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 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. The Georgia Senate had demanded to inspect the contents of that warehouse on English Street. Hours later, rented Enterprise vans pulled up to the warehouse, and pallets of ballots were moved out.
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 + 12 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 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, 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.
Meanwhile, I had returned to DC. I was still trying to get another 10 minutes with Trump. I wanted to repeat to him again that if he waited until he lost on January 6 and then tried the plan that we had been proposing, it would be sore loserism. But we still had a few days left, and if he pulled the trigger, we could have an answer regarding those Problematic 6 counties. We could have it done before January 6, so that the Senate might make an informed choice, or buy us an extra week to do more work, or or or…
At this point I will insert one important sub-story. 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.
Flynn and I were together again in DC, watching the approaching January 6 date like frustrated hawks. I had done several interviews and even a public speech or two where I had insisted that, “We do not go violent, we are better than the other guys, if we go violent we lose.” I thought it was too obvious to dwell on.
I learned that I had been invited to speak on the morning of January 6, on the South Lawn, by the Women for Trump who had organized the rally. I prepared a talk to hit two points: how our system of consent of the governed relies on elections that are free, fair, and transparent (which our November election was not). Secondly, we do not use violence.
I was torn between two ways of making the point about non-violence:
- Telling a story from Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead regarding non-violence (which I have written up on Deep Capture as: Jerry Garcia on Confrontation & “The Main Asshole”).
- Telling a story I told about Moldova. 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. I wrote that story up as well: “A Message to Militias Across America Regarding the Goon-Left and Agents Provocateurs [Not the Lingerie]”.
I was not sure which story I would use on the White House lawn. On the 5th, I decided that the crowd might not know who Jerry Garcia was, so I decided to write that story up online and tweet it out a couple times to the throngs who were arriving in DC, and rehearsed a concise explanation of the Moldova story to use on the morning of January 6 when I spoke.
Mike Flynn was going to be speaking too, we were informed, and Mike and I spoke about what we were going to say, what the crowd needed to hear. We recognized it as a unique historical opportunity: we would have perhaps 30 minutes to explain to the world the irregularities that had disrupted the election, and most likely had changed its outcome. We prepared to meet that challenge. We understood that some of the people with whom we had been working, the cyber-ninjas and scientists and such, were also preparing concise explanations, but the choice of who among them was going to be speaking was being handled by the organizers.
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 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 begin to have grave doubts about the November 2020 election, but I figured that with 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 scientists 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, 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 “I was robbed” pep rally: no real effort was made to explain to the crowd, to the Senators who would begin voting in an hour, to the Americans watching at home, to the world that counts on America to be the leader of free, fair, and transparent elections, what went wrong with the November 2020 election, and why we believed there were deep irregularities demanding investigation. No significant effort at all.
Instead, it was a pep rally. That’s it. An “I was robbed” 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.