Mike Lindell, the election-denying crackpot and pillow salesman, was one of a few pro-Trump conspiracy theorists to have their phones seized this week by the FBI. But his story is particularly evocative.
On an episode of his Rumble show, Lindell explained that he was driving from a hunting trip in Iowa back to Minnesota when he stopped at a Hardee’s in his hometown of Mankato. He said that after ordering his food, a car pulled perpendicular to his, and another car then pinned him in. After demanding identification from the FBI agents, who he initially thought could be “bad guys,” Lindell was presented with a search warrant for his phone.
Unlike some of his conspiracy-theory compatriots who have been hit by such seizures lately, Lindell was not under scrutiny for his role in the Capitol riot — at least not this time. He said the agents were instead interested in his ties with Tina Peters, the Colorado county clerk and election denier who has been accused of illegally allowing unauthorized people to access voting machines in Mesa County as part of a plot to prove that the 2020 election was stolen. (Peters, who ran an unsuccessful bid for Colorado secretary of State, has pleaded not guilty.) Lindell has said in the past that he funded Peters’s efforts, and he has raised money for her legal defense.
Lindell said that the agents also asked him about his connections with Douglas Frank, another prominent election denier. And though he claimed the warrant specified that Lindell should keep quiet about its contents, he posted it on social media and read aloud from it on his show. In one section, Lindell said, agents requested “all records and information relating to damage to any Dominion computerized voting system.” Lindell faces a defamation lawsuit from an employee of the company, which Lindell has claimed tampered with election results. It is not clear to what extent, if any, Lindell is a target of the FBI’s probe.
Either way, it’s all grist for Lindell’s mini media machine. On Facebook, he called the “weaponization” of the FBI “disgusting,” though on Rumble he did say that the agents who questioned him were “pretty nice guys.” And in multiple interviews about the incident, Lindell struck a defiant tone. “I’ve been to many jails,” Lindell told ABC News. “I’m not scared to go to jail. I’m trying to save my country.”
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