Mike Lindell's Cyber Fraud Hootenanny Going Exactly As Well As Anticipated

Mike Lindell is shouting.

It's a lede that could have been written any day in the past two years, of course. But today the pillow fluffer is shouting about CYBERS and P-CAPS and melting down all the RIGGED Dominion voting machines and turning them into jails to do LOCK HER UPS to "Suckabuck" and "Dorky." (Yes, melting down the machines and turning the melted machines into jails, that's what we typed.) Because it's day two of Lindell's three-day "cyber symposium," after which the Supreme Court will vote "9-0" to return Donald Trump to the White House.

Or maybe not.

The day got off to a rocky start when the livestream was delayed. Naturally, Lindell blamed his tech problems on "hackers," as if this crew needs outside help to step on their own dicks "cyberly." Only a couple of hundred people appear to be in the hall in Sioux Falls, but Lindell claims 40 million — roughly one in nine Americans — are tuned into the livestream. Which is par for the course when you're just making up random numbers and pointing to them as proof of a Chinese conspiracy to steal the 2020 election.

Lindell hyped this hoedown with promises he'd release data proving the election was stolen. And indeed he has drawn some serious cybersecurity professionals such as Robert Graham, who livetweeted the event.

His conclusion: "To be clear: he gave us experts NOTHING today, except random garbage that wastes our time (e.g. a CSV needlessly encoded as RTF needlessly encoded as hex)."

But if the day was light on information, it was heavy on theatrics.

Here's Mike Lindell having a shitfit over the suggestion that he break for lunch.

Here's Steve Bannon looking spiffy in his best barn jacket.

Here's Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, promising that his father can only lose re-election if there is massive fraud, and presenting Lindell with a MAGA hat signed by Trump himself.

And here's a Colorado election official who claims her office was just raided by investigators who showed up with a warrant. The persecution is real!

Or maybe Tina Peters, the Colorado election official in question, is a giant goddamn idiot. As Tim Miller points out at The Bulwark, someone in Peters's office appears to have leaked the passwords to the Dominion voting machines to Ron Watkins, AKA Q himself, in an attempt to prove that the machines could be hacked if they were actually hooked up to the internet. Election officials have repeatedly insisted the machines were not online, but Mike Lindell knows better.

LINDELL: You hear all the lies out there from the media that they're not online. "They're not online! They're not online! They can't even go online, right?" They can't even go online? Well, how does that data get to CNN where they flip those votes in real time? How does that get there? Of course it goes through the internet!

Ummmm .... never mind.

Peters wasn't the only possible eventual criminal defendant onstage. As Salon's indefatigable winger-watcher Zachary Petrizzo notes, if the data Lindell claims to have showing traffic between computers in the US and China is real, it was likely obtained in violation of federal wiretapping laws.

Which brings us to an interesting question: Is Lindell the con or the mark?

The Washington Post's Philip Bump had a column yesterday suggesting it's the latter.

In other words, this seems very much like a guy who's primed to believe fairly far-flung excuses for why bad things happen. The kind of guy who, when told that the data will be ready in a month, waits patiently for the month to pass. Maybe he's something more sinister, engaged in an effort to willfully delude America, but observing him over time makes it seem more like he's the mark than the hustler.

And perhaps he's right. But Lindell has also gone to some lengths to obscure inconvenient truths about his supposed evidence. As the factchecking site Lead Stories points out and as cybersecurity expert Robert Graham confirmed, the source for Lindell's supposed smoking gun data is a guy named Dennis Montgomery, who has been accused on multiple occasions of selling fraudulent data. After media sites noted Montgomery's checkered history, Lindell scrubbed any mention of Montgomery from his own webpage. When asked yesterday where he got the information, he refused to answer, simply saying "I have it."

Which certainly suggests that, while he may be getting taken for a ride, he's also not above telling a few fibs along the way. See also Lindell's promise to hand over $5 million to anyone who can prove the information he's hawking isn't "election data." But all that scrolling number shit Lindell's been flogging is election data — it's publicly available voter information rendered in numerical form and set to an ominous soundtrack. Which, again, suggests Lindell is at least partly in on the joke.

But of course, it's not a joke. And whether he's the mark or the con, Lindell's antics are fundamentally corrosive to American democracy, further eroding faith in our battered civic institution. And it's funny, but it's also not fucking funny at all.

[Beast / Lead Stories / Salon / WaPo]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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