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Mike Lindell: MyPillow chief’s influence grows as ardent supporter of Trump’s Big Lie | Ohio

M.The embers of the crowd cheer as men in blue suits and long red-striped ties walk by their section of the Coverli Center. Some of the rally participants stand while a man smiles, waves and applauds before climbing the stairs to the press riser.

Surprisingly, Donald Trump is not at the center of this accolades. Ohio.

Instead, the crowd’s cult object is Mike Lindell, MyPillow’s CEO and one of the most avid proponents of lies. Democratic Party I cheated in the 2020 election.

Lindell has become a target of disdain and ridicule among Democrats, anti-Trump Republicans and even Republicans late night hostBut he found a home at rallies where die-hard fans of the former president gathered to lament Joe Biden living illegally in the White House. Lindell still makes a living selling foam pillows. (not to mention sheet sets, slippers, and pet beds), but he’s now spent tens of millions of dollars exposing massive election fraud he can’t seem to prove.

Lindell’s antics and his near-ubiquitous presence in advertising for far-right platforms (“My patented fills are tailored to your exact individual needs,” Lindell croaks. one pillow commercial) made it easy for Trump’s critics to laugh him off. A trend that could have disastrous consequences for future American elections.

“He systematically reduces trust in elections,” said Ian Vandewalker, senior counsel for elections and government programs at the Brennan Center. So even when election results are questioned on the basis of falsehoods and what has been proven false many times, there is no suspicion or suspicion that there is something illegal. Persistent belief threatens the entire system.”

From political novice to messenger of ‘big lies’

In 2009, the idea of ​​Mike Lindell becoming a famous politician would have shocked many, including Mike Lindell.

Lindell, a recovering crack cocaine addict, said in January 2009 she decided to quit drinking and recommit her life to Christianity and the business MyPillow, which she founded with the dream of creating the perfect pillow. I’m here. In 2011, Lindell began producing his trademark infomercials and MyPillow soon began to grow rapidly. Lindell says MyPillows has now sold more than 50 million of his products, and his Minnesota-based company has about 2,000 employees.

Before Trump launched his first presidential campaign, Lindell was a self-proclaimed political novice, unable to make a clear distinction between Democrats and Democrats. Republican“I had to learn what a liberal was, what a conservative was. I knew nothing about politics,” Lindell told CNN in 2018. I was never interested in politics and didn’t understand how important it was. “

Things changed in the summer of 2015 when Mr. Trump stepped down the golden escalator.Lindell Said He first met the then-presidential candidate in 2016. Trump invited him to New York to discuss his business operations.After Trump won the election, Lindell attended the White House many times. and attended a manufacturer summit and one of the first coronavirus briefings.

First in the 2018 midterm elections, and then in the 2020 election, Lindell, who took on the role of a campaign deputy, has become a regular at Trump rallies, delivering increasingly bizarre tributes to the president. Speaking at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference, Lindell Declared Trump is “chosen by God” to lead the country.

Lindell at a Trump rally in Minnesota in September 2020. Photo: Stephen Mathulen/Getty Images

“They are all soldiers and crusaders in this battle,” said Reed Galen, co-founder of the anti-Trump group Lincoln Project. “They’re wrapping all this up in religion…not just ‘I’m fighting for freedom,’ but ‘I’m literally fighting for freedom under the banner of heaven.'”

For someone like Lindell, whose admiration for Trump borders on idolatry, the then-president’s defeat in the 2020 election was not only devastating, it was unthinkable. Even after losing dozens of lawsuits to the contrary and failing to find valid evidence of widespread fraud, Lindell remains steadfast in his belief that the election was rigged. offers a refuge from the reality that Biden won the popular vote by seven million votes.

“It really comes out in the narrative of the scam that says, ‘He’s so bad that 80 million people couldn’t have voted for that guy.'” “There’s definitely an element of ‘I can’t believe the country is in such chaos that I’m voting for someone I don’t want to vote for, so it must be a scam’.” ”

Lindell took advantage of that mistrust. The pillow salesman has reinvented himself as a prophet who spreads the gospel of The Big Lie. And his dedication to the cause now intertwines his business, his personal finances, and his legal responsibilities.

Hardy’s drive-thru

In January 2020, days before President Trump stepped down, Lindell sounded the alarm in the White House and across the country. It’s been found Enter the Oval Office with a note containing the phrase “martial law if necessary.” Of course, Lindell’s apparent proposal to impose a military regime on the country in response to Trump’s election loss did not materialize, and Biden was sworn in as president a few days later.

The incident highlighted Lindell’s continued commitment to election denial, even after the deadly Jan. 6 riots. (Lindel Said Although he did not participate in the attacks on the Capitol, he does admit to attending a Trump rally at Ellipse before the violence began. The House Select Committee investigating the riot subpoenaed Lindell’s phone records.)

If anything, Lindell has doubled down on his election fraud allegations in the nearly two years since Trump’s defeat.Lindell says he now has exhaustion Between $35 million and $40 million is backing Trump’s election lies, some of which is going to lawyers’ fees and making films about fraud allegations. Lindell also funded a new social his media platform called “Frank He’s Social” after being kicked out of Twitter for pitching misinformation in the election.Twice).

Lindell hosted a “cyber symposium” in South Dakota last year, where he promised to eventually uncover computer data proving Chinese agents hacked the state’s election system. He failed to hand over that data, and his cyber symposium went viral. mocking internet memes, but the embarrassing debacle does not appear to have humbled him.As recently, this monthLindell claimed he would soon provide evidence proving that Biden stole the 2020 election.

Lindell’s activities have hurt more than his bank account and reputation. He calls his “big lie” activism (or “culture cancellation”, in his words) for the loss of business partnerships between MyPillow and retailers such as Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond. MyPillow lost $80 million in sales after its products were pulled from major chain Lindel. told CNBC late last year.

The greater financial risk for Lindell is that Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against him and MyPillow.supreme court ruled earlier this month Dominion’s lawsuit, which alleges Lindell damaged the company’s reputation by spreading false claims about voting machines, could move forward. dismissed Lindell himself has filed lawsuits against other voting system companies, Dominion and Smartmatic, for “frivolous” and “unsubstantiated” claims.

Lindell’s research has even caught the attention of federal agents. As Lindell told viewers of his online TV show last month, an FBI agent issued a search warrant as he waited in his drive-thru section of his fast food restaurant, Hardee’s. issued. Lindell asks about Tina Peters, a Colorado county clerk and advocate for “The Big Lie,” whose agents seized his phone and is indicted for facilitating security breaches in the local election system. did.

Hardy took advantage of the incident by joking at Lindell’s expense. ‘Because I knew we existed,’ said the fast-food chain Tweet“You really should try our pillow biscuits.”

“On the borderline of sedition”

Symposium satire and drive-thru altercations with federal agents make Lindell an easy target for jokes from those who have already denied Trump’s election lies. For those who refuse to believe he won fairly on , Lindell’s financial and legal losses only increased his credibility.

At Trump’s rally in Youngstown last month, just days after the Hardy debacle, attendees posed for pictures with Lindell and signed a “Make America Great Again” hat. One woman told Lindell, “I love you,” after taking a selfie with Lindell, while another said Lindell’s story of political activism and life was “inspiring.” I thought.

After posing for a photo with Lindell, Angela Phelps said, “I like the fact that he’s funding what he believes in.” I like it.”

Lawrence Jacobs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota and author of “Democracy under Fire: Donald Trump and the Breaking of American History,” argues that Lindell’s hero-worship is how election denial is central to the Republican identity. said that it reflected how it became.

“He’s part of the line-up of superheroes who fought Donald Trump,” Jacobs said. “His political judgments bordered on sedition, but thanks to his support for Trump and his lies denying the election, he has now risen to the status of this kind of political cult.”

The survey results reflect how expressing skepticism about the 2020 election results has become essential for Republican voters.a Monmouth College Poll A survey last month found that 61% of Republicans and 29% of all Americans believe voter fraud helped Biden win the election.

These views are reflected in the 2022 midterm elections, which are just two weeks away.according to New York Times analysismore than 370 Republican candidates running for the U.S. House and Senate, governor, secretary of state and attorney general are questioning their 2020 results.

“The political paradigm I grew up with is definitely gone,” said former Republican operative Galen. “This is the party now.”

In a way, figures like Lindell are giving voters a free license to wrap themselves in the fiction that Trump won the 2020 election. Experts warn that the continued propaganda of the “big lie” could make it even easier to undermine future election results.

“Election denial has gone from a lie by Donald Trump after the 2020 election to a political fad that has swept the Republican Party,” Jacobs said. “It is an astonishing development that one of America’s major political parties has constructed an agenda that calls into question the legitimacy of peaceful power transfers based on electoral victories…The problems we have now will only accelerate in the future.” It is bad and will get worse.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/oct/25/mike-lindell-mypillow-trump-big-lie-midterms Mike Lindell: MyPillow chief’s influence grows as ardent supporter of Trump’s Big Lie | Ohio

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