If Mike Lindell's claims were correct (they're not), he likely broke wiretapping laws

Lindell's "absolute proof" almost certainly isn't legit. But if it were, he could be in serious legal trouble

Published August 11, 2021 6:00AM (EDT)

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, with his long-time-coming South Dakota "cyber symposium" finally upon us, is still promising data that will serve as "absolute proof" that agents of the Chinese government stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump. There is no reason to believe any of the pillow king's information is legitimate. In fact, if it were, Lindell could face "very severe" consequences for violating federal wiretapping laws, one expert tells Salon.

Lindell's so-called data has already been described as highly questionable by experts who spoke to CNN. One can only wonder, however, why Lindell would claim he obtained the data in a blatantly illegal fashion. 

A source with 20-plus years of expertise in the cyber-security and technology arena told Salon on Monday that Lindell and his band of "white hat hackers" could face criminal charges if they have anything resembling the kind of data Lindell has claimed. 

"Number one is, how did they acquire this data?" the expert asked. "You can't just pull this kind of information from a remote, you have to have a physical device sitting there that is providing this information." In other words, the only way Lindell could have acquired the kind of data he claims is by inserting a physical device that can "watch information that is going in and out of a network," the literal definition of wiretapping and a clear violation of federal law.

This is not some minor technical violation, the expert added, but a "very serious offense." The expert said that even being in possession of that data, no matter who acquired it, is potentially illegal. 

Reached for comment by Salon on Monday afternoon as he prepared to launch his Sioux Falls event, Lindell said his supposed hackers had acquired "a bunch of stuff that escaped from China." He did not respond to the specific concerns of the expert quoted in this story. "I can't worry about you doing a hit job today, Zach," the MyPillow CEO added before hanging up. "Let's try it tomorrow."

Lindell's fortunes have taken a beating in recent days, following his decision to drop MyPillow ads from Fox News in retribution for the network's refusal to cover his "absolute proof" event. That decision has reportedly meant losses of $1 million a week for his previously lucrative bedding and pillow company.

Lindell's big event in South Dakota appears to have been slightly delayed. If it goes off the rails entirely, almost no one except Lindell himself would be surprised. It wouldn't be the first time the man who has brought restful sleep to millions has been duped by self-proclaimed cyber and internet experts, spending millions with little to show for it.

As of Tuesday evening, at his event in Sioux Falls, Lindell had yet to show any evidence of widespread election fraud.  

By Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo was an investigative reporter at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief Cyber Symposium Donald Trump Election Fraud Fox News Mike Lindell Mypillow South Dakota