Mike Lindell for months on Twitter tried to change the outcome of the 2020 election and back former President Donald Trump. But after losing the digital megaphone, the Minnesota businessman on Tuesday said he doesn't need it anyway.
Twitter decided to permanently suspend Lindell Monday night, a turning point in what Lindell said he believes has been an intentional, weekslong effort by several entities to silence him.
Lindell, who founded Chaska-based MyPillow Inc., has been one of the most prominent public figures pushing debunked claims that widespread election fraud denied Trump a victory in the November election.
Lindell told the Star Tribune that he was locked out of his Twitter account for nearly two weeks before briefly regaining control of it Monday.
"They froze me out. Everyone thought it was still up, but I couldn't like or do anything," Lindell said. "They really had already banned me without the public knowing."
A Twitter spokesman told the Associated Press it suspended Lindell's account due to "repeated violations" of its civic integrity policy. The policy was implemented in September and is targeted at fighting disinformation.
Following the storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, Twitter has banned over 70,000 accounts for sharing misinformation or inciting violence. Trump, who had urged on the mob, was among them.
The company's actions have intensified a debate over the role of social media companies in the nation's discourse. Democrats are beginning to coalesce around the idea of more regulations aimed at data privacy, hate speech, disinformation and antitrust issues. Republicans have complained for several years their views are disproportionately suppressed on the tech platforms.
Tuesday afternoon, MyPillow's official Twitter account promoted an evening appearance by Lindell on Fox News conservative commentator Tucker Carlson's show, promising an "exclusive regarding cancel culture."
It's unclear what specific tweets on Lindell's account led Twitter to ban him. The company did not respond to a request from the Star Tribune for more information.
Lindell said after weeks of being unable to control his account, he was able to tweet Monday a blog post that portrayed him in a positive light, written by the executive director of Lindell Recovery Network, an addiction recovery organization Lindell started.
Leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Lindell routinely shared claims that the election was riddled with fraud. Lindell met Trump just five days before he left office with more ideas for challenging the election. A photo of a document Lindell was holding outside the White House revealed the words "martial law."
Since then, both Lindell and MyPillow were swept up in a backlash. Last week, he revealed that several large retailers decided to stop carrying the company's products and he began to waver on a near-certain plan to run for governor of Minnesota next year.
On Tuesday, Lindell remained defiant about the effects of the criticism. He said that even if MyPillow loses retailers it will sell directly.
"The real people don't care. Pillows are not political," he said. The company's annual sales are believed to be around $100 million to $150 million but, because it is privately owned, its finances cannot be independently verified.
As for his prospective entry in the governor's race, Lindell said, "2022 is a long way off. I will get this evidence out to the people."
In his efforts to challenge the election results, Lindell blamed the technology used to tally votes, specifically voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems.
Dominion's attorneys sent Lindell at least two letters since last month demanding that he publicly apologize and retract his claims, some of them made on Twitter, that the company stole "millions of votes" through its voting machines. The company says apart from the reputational damage, its employees have received death threats due to these claims.
Lindell reiterated Tuesday that he was not backing down from a fight with Dominion.
"I want to get sued by Dominion because then both sides have to show in court. ... Dominion's lawyers are not going to bother me because they know I have all this [evidence]," Lindell said. "My support of Donald Trump has never wavered since the time I met him and it never will. Never ever, ever. They stole this election from him, these machines."
Lindell said earlier this month that he was "90 to 95%" in favor of challenging Gov. Tim Walz in 2022. Yet he has since suggested that he would not run until his claims on voting machine hacking were accepted and addressed.
The 59-year-old Lindell did not become active in politics until Donald Trump's 2016 campaign for president. Between then and until recently, he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for GOP candidates in Minnesota and nationwide while serving as Trump's "honorary campaign chair" in Minnesota last year.
Lindell said he has spent $2.5 million investigating the election and challenging its results. He also criticized the mainstream media for repeatedly calling his claims baseless and unsubstantiated.
"I have piles and piles of evidence if anyone wants to publish it," Lindell said. He said he is trying to furnish the evidence to the U.S. Supreme Court by paying cybersecurity and forensic experts to mine data that can be used in lawsuits.
In an earlier interview, Lindell told a Star Tribune reporter that "Minnesota was taken by the machines, too" and claimed without evidence that Trump had actually won the state by 60,000 votes. However, just six Minnesota counties use Dominion machines and Trump won all but one of those counties.
Kristen Leigh Painter • 612-673-4767
Stephen Montemayor • 612-673-1755