Mike Lindell's Mission Impossible: Can his "secret agents" undo the 2020 election?

Pillow king claims he'll "harvest" data from voting machines; allies hint at secret raids on election facilities

By Zachary Petrizzo
Published June 11, 2021 5:50AM (EDT)
Michael Lindell, CEO of MyPillow Inc., speaks during a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at the Duluth International Airport on September 30, 2020 in Duluth, Minnesota. The rally is Trump's first after last night's Presidential Debate. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Michael Lindell, CEO of MyPillow Inc., speaks during a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at the Duluth International Airport on September 30, 2020 in Duluth, Minnesota. The rally is Trump's first after last night's Presidential Debate. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Fervent Trump acolyte and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, along with various associates, is accelerating his quixotic and/or terrifying quest to undo the 2020 presidential election. Over the past month Lindell has gone from unhinged tangents on various right-wing platforms — including his own semi-broken Frank Speech website — to alleged real-world actions that may include somehow acquiring voting machines and ordering a team of operatives to break into election facilities. 

In recent weeks, both in conversations with Salon and during media appearances on his Frank Speech site, Lindell has proudly boasted that he now possesses both Dominion and Smartmatic voting machines — and believes his team will soon "harvest" incriminating data from their innards. 

These claims echo earlier ones made by the pillow magnate on a May 8 segment of Steve Bannon's podcast. "I'll give Dominion a little scare this morning," Lindell told Bannon. "We have machines now, I do. We have ES&S [Election Systems & Software] machines; we've got them all. We're going to be putting out so much information over the next couple weeks, and this isn't from Arizona, these are machines we actually have."

No "information" has emerged in the intervening month but Lindell's claims have only intensified, including his vaporware proposal that former President Donald Trump will be reinstalled as president in August, by way of some unexplained mechanism and following a unanimous Supreme Court decision.

On May 20, Lindell stated on his Frank Speech website that he now has both Dominion and Smartmatic voting machines, hinting that he has been hiding them in undisclosed locations. 

Salon has had numerous conversations with Lindell and his associates, but they repeatedly failed to provide any "absolute proof," if you will, that they really had any such machines in their possession. 

A Smartmatic spokesperson told Salon this week that the company has no record of Lindell claiming to be in possession of one of its machines, while noting, "We did see Mr. Lindell saying he had a Dominion voting machine." The company spokesperson didn't respond to a follow-up email from Salon on the matter. Dominion Voting Systems informed Salon, through a third-party communications firm, that it had no comment on Lindell's claims. 

Lindell's arcane or outlandish claims and schemes relating to the 2020 election don't end there. In late May, Dr. Douglas Frank, a fellow election conspiracy enthusiast and Lindell sidekick, claimed on a small right-wing YouTube channel that the pillow-preneur had hired "'Mission: Impossible' secret agent kind of people" to break into facilities where IP addresses were allegedly being stored that somehow pertained to the 2020 ballot counts. (Frank is not a physician, but by his own account holds a PhD in chemistry and is a math and science educator in Cincinnati.)

"So he hired people that are brilliant computer technical experts to go to these places and actually do it," Frank said. Along with fellow conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxer Dr. Sheri Tenpenny, Frank is a frequent guest on Lindell's nightly programming and appears to be a trusted adviser. 

Frank didn't return a Salon request for comment regarding his knowledge of Lindell's alleged "Mission: Impossible" strike force. 

When Salon reached Lindell to inquire about his purported team of agents, the MyPillow CEO reiterated that he believes this reporter is "evil." 

"Did you forget that you don't exist in my world?" Lindell asked, rhetorically. "You are a terrible journalist! Zachary Petrizzo is an evil, terrible journalist! That is my quote!" 

When Salon called back to follow up, one of Lindell's assistants informed Salon that the bedding tycoon was "done" talking with Salon. Asked about the voting machines, Lindell's assistant asserted that the man who has given millions a good night's sleep possessed "many" such machines, but declined to say where they were. 

As Lindell prepares for his second "Frank Speech" rally in New Richmond, Wisconsin, this Saturday, with an impressive range of special guests that include TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, Newsmax hosts Diamond and Silk (Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson) and ex-felon and conservative author Dinesh D'Souza, he launched a last-ditch effort to attract rally-goers by appearing on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' "Infowars" program on Thursday. 

The first "Frank Speech" rally was held on May 10 in Mitchell, South Dakota, and failed to attract anywhere near the 30,000 attendees Lindell had predicted. He is making the same prediction the second time around.

As for Lindell's mysterious teams of private investigators and "Mission: Impossible" secret agents, it remains unclear whether these people exist or whom they might work for. Lindell made similar grandiose claims about the software engineers behind his website, which never successfully launched as a social media platform and to this day frequently crashes during his live broadcasts. 

Lindell has said that his investigators are looking into both Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey — major targets of Trump's ire — after the Republican Governors Association booted him from its gathering in Georgia. He has also suggested that a similar team of "private investigators," is looking into why Fox News, in Lindell's opinion, isn't covering his "bombshell" revelations stemming from the 2020 election. 

"Why is Mike Lindell not on Fox, and why do they seem to say, 'Hey, when Dominion says something, we're just gonna shut up about it and talk about Biden's tax bill'?" Bannon asked Lindell in March. The MyPillow CEO responded, "You know, I'm gonna have those answers soon 'cause I've hired private investigators, and I've spent a lot of money on them to investigate everything."

At the beginning of June, Lindell filed an 82-page federal lawsuit against Dominion and Smartmatic, according to Law and Crime. That report continues:

Lindell's case also contains allegations that the various elections technology company defendants were — and are — attempting to illegally shut Lindell up by threatening and then filing their own defamation lawsuits against him several weeks back. Lindell's suit cites Wikipedia to allege a mathematical-style equation he claims describes the companies' litigation against him: "Lawsuit Warfare = Lawsuit + Warefare = Lawfare."

As Lindell ramps up the intensity of his schemes, the question for his legions of followers is whether and when the plans will culminate in "reinstating" Trump to the White House. Lindell appeared nervous last Friday about his previous August deadline, and instead said that Trump will be back on "God's time."


Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo is a staff writer at Salon. He previously covered politics at Mediaite and The Daily Dot. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo. Send him tips: zpetrizzo@salon.com

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