Mike Lindell sure has a lot of opinions about election integrity for a guy who runs a pillow company. For months now, he has been peddling garbage about how the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen. This week, he was supposed to finally prove it. He scheduled a multi-day "Cyber Symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he promised to show proof of election fraud. By the end of it, he claimed, the truth would be so clear that Donald Trump would be immediately reinstated as president.
Real quick, here is what Lindell claims: In the lead-up to the so-called symposium, he said that he had amassed 37 terabytes of “irrefutable” evidence that shows that China hacked the 2020 election and rigged the outcome in Joe Biden's favor. The evidence apparently hinges on supposedly intercepted network data or “packet captures,” which show that votes were changed. Lindell promised to release this information at the conference, and was so sure of the ironclad status of this evidence that he has argued that the Supreme Court would vote 9-0 to overturn the election once presented with it.
So let's check in and see how it's been going!
It's hard to pinpoint when exactly things started going downhill with Lindell's cyber symposium, primarily because it started really, really far down the hill. When the conference was scheduled to start, Lindell took the stage and claimed that he was hacked, forcing him to delay his plans to show the supposedly irrefutable evidence of election fraud. "The whole technology was attacked," he told the audience. "We need to get the word out because they blocked the thing. But this is part of what I'm going to talk about today. This is the cover-up. This is the absolute cover-up of the worst in history."
The only thing that had been made available to him and others who came to verify the information was "random garbage that wastes our time."
What any of that means exactly is unclear. But Lindell withheld the packets that everyone was there for, much to the chagrin of the cybersecurity experts who showed up to examine the data. One expert in attendance, Robert Graham, tweeted that the only thing that had been made available to him and others who came to verify the information was "random garbage that wastes our time." The good stuff was not ready for primetime, Lindell claimed, because the source of the data allegedly had a stroke before the conference. (Hold on to this bit of information!)
Instead, Lindell used the first day in part to highlight a supposed case of voter fraud that occurred in Colorado that has been on the radar of conspiracy theorists for months now. Here's what happened: At some point, the passwords for Mesa County's Dominion voting machines were published on The Gateway Pundit, a far-right blog. The leak has been pointed to as evidence of how easy these machines could be hijacked — except the passwords only work if you have access to the machines in person, and the leak likely happened after the election. Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is under criminal investigation, as state investigators believe the leak came from her office. Peters has so far not complied with the state's efforts to find who leaked the password — but she did find time to fly to South Dakota and speak on Lindell's stage. She, of course, used that platform to stoke more conspiracy theories, claiming that while she was speaking, the state was likely planting false evidence to incriminate her.
Day two of the symposium did not manage to tone down the outlandishness. It was supposed to be headed by Ron Watkins, supposed "security expert" and the person who is believed to be the "Q" that fuels the QAnon conspiracy theory. But Watkins had some trouble appearing remotely on screen at the conference. The whole day was marred by technical difficulties, and even the people who were able to speak seemed largely disinterested. One supposed expert took a call in the middle of a presentation.
Things started to really spiral, though, when word broke that a federal judge decided not to throw out a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Lindell and other Trumpworld conspiracy theorists Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. That decision will allow Dominion to move forward with a $1 billion lawsuit against the three, who have claimed against evidence that the company's voting machines were hacked. Shortly after word of the judge's decision broke, Lindell scurried off despite previously pledging to stay on stage for 72 hours straight.
With little actual evidence to go on and Lindell seemingly in crisis, it became clear to many in attendance that they were not going to get the goods. Any lingering hope was fully gone by the end of the day. Josh Merritt, a cybersecurity expert hired by Lindell to examine the data behind the scenes while the symposium was happening, told The Washington Times that the packets were a nothingburger. "We're not going to say that this is legitimate if we don't have confidence in the information," he told the right-leaning paper. He also revealed that Lindell's initial promise to pay $5 million to anyone who could disprove his claims of election fraud had been pulled.
Merritt also revealed that the source of the supposed evidence was Dennis L. Montgomery, and said that Montgomery had a stroke on the eve of the symposium and was not in touch with Lindell and his team. Montgomery has quietly been the source behind a number of conspiracy theories, including a supposed illegal conspiracy between the U.S. Department of Justice and federal judges that convicted criminal Joe Arpaio claimed to be trying to expose. In that instance, Montgomery allegedly tried to pass off a bunch of junk data as evidence and then was accused of faking a stroke just days before he was supposed to deliver the information. Sound familiar?
With the premise of the whole conference basically blown, the final day of the cyber symposium has mostly just been Lindell ranting. He claimed to have been attacked at his hotel the night prior. He claimed that the insurrection attempt on Jan. 6 was a set up. He claimed that a Gateway Pundit writer was part of the CIA. And importantly, he admitted that he doesn't know when the election will be overturned.
It is a fitting end for a supposed cybersecurity event that was plagued by technical issues. It went from the promise of irrefutable proof of election fraud to just a guy ranting. Now if we could all just point the cameras and the mics elsewhere.