Mon. Jan 30th, 2023

FBI agents seized a cellphone belonging to Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and prominent election denier, as part of a federal investigation into an alleged breach of voting machines in Colorado, according to Lindell.

The agents served Lindell with a search warrant and grand jury subpoena Tuesday afternoon in the drive-through area of a Hardee’s restaurant in Mankato, Minn., he said on his online TV show. Lindell said the agents questioned him about Tina Peters, the Mesa County, Colo., clerk who was indicted in March on charges that she helped an outsider copy sensitive data from the county’s elections systems in May 2021.

The FBI acknowledged that a warrant was served but declined to elaborate. “Without commenting on this specific matter, I can confirm that the FBI was at that location executing a search warrant authorized by a federal judge,” a spokesperson for the bureau’s Denver field office said in an email.

Lindell said the FBI agents also asked him about an image copied from a Mesa County voting machine that was published on his website, Frank Speech.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Lindell told The Washington Post that he was not involved in the copying of Mesa County’s election management system and did not meet Peters until she attended a “cyber symposium” he held in South Dakota in August 2021.

“I have no idea what went on then,” Lindell said. “I have nothing to do with it.”

The FBI’s action against Lindell, who has used his multimillion-dollar pillow fortune to finance high-profile films, conferences and other media promoting disinformation about elections, points to a widening of the federal investigation into the alleged breach in Mesa County. The probe is one of multiple investigations underway into alleged security breaches of local elections offices in states also including Michigan and Georgia.

Efforts to access sensitive voting equipment — in some cases with the help of like-minded local officials — were aimed at finding evidence that the machines were used to rig the 2020 election. Access to such equipment is intended to be tightly controlled.

Other Trump allies have recently received subpoenas from federal investigators who are conducting investigations into events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the election. Lindell told The Post he has not received any subpoena from a grand jury investigating Jan. 6.

A document that Lindell displayed on his show, which he said was a copy of the search warrant, stated that the FBI was seeking information relating to tampering with Dominion Voting Systems equipment, the type used in Mesa and many other counties nationwide. Dominion has come under attack from former president Donald Trump and others promoting false conspiracy theories about election fraud. The company is suing Lindell, Fox News and prominent election deniers for defamation.

The document said authorities were seeking evidence of possible violations by Lindell, Peters and several others of federal laws against identity theft and intentional damage to a protected computer.

Lindell also displayed a grand jury subpoena, dated Sept. 7, which he said the FBI agents gave him. The subpoena called for testimony before a federal grand jury in Grand Junction, Colo., on Nov. 3, but it was not clear from the document whether Lindell was required to testify or to merely provide his phone. Lindell also showed The Post a copy of the subpoena.

Peters and two other Mesa officials were previously indicted by a state grand jury on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation. Prosecutors accuse them of participating in a scheme to allow Conan Hayes, a former pro-surfer who reinvented himself as a data expert, to gain access to Mesa County election systems and copy sensitive files in May 2021.

Peters has pleaded not guilty while her former deputy, Belinda Knisley, agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges and testify “at any trials in any venue” involving Peters or others involved in the alleged Mesa County breach, according to the plea agreement.

Speaking on his show, Lindell said he had advised the FBI agents to check his website for the voting machine image. “They wanted to know about the image. I said, ‘You guys can see the image right here on Frank Speech — we’ve got the whole evidence right up here for you,’ ” Lindell said.

In the interview on Wednesday morning, Lindell claimed he was being targeted because of his efforts to get rid of electronic voting machines. “Do you think I’m going to quit now?” he said, scoffing. He said he would welcome the chance to speak with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but claimed “they won’t have me because I’d bring the evidence … that the election was stolen.”

Dozens of judges rejected post-election challenges by Trump and his allies, while multiple local, state and federal officials said that claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election were baseless.

Lindell sent his private plane last year to pick up Peters in Colorado and take her to his symposium, according to an email Peters wrote. Lindell previously told The Post that he had paid for Peters’s lodging, security and lawyers after her appearance at the event triggered an investigation by state and federal officials.

Hayes, who has not been charged, was among the five people named on the federal search warrant served on Lindell. A phone number listed for Hayes in law enforcement documents is no longer working. He did not respond to several requests for comment from The Post in recent months about his alleged involvement in the Mesa scheme and alleged breaches of voting machines in other states.

The document displayed by Lindell also named Douglas Frank, a longtime math and science teacher in Ohio who claims to have discovered secret algorithms used to rig the 2020 election. Frank met with Peters at her office in April 2021 and “showed her how her election was hacked,” The Post has previously reported. He told her that an upcoming Dominion software update could erase data needed to show that the election was stolen and relayed to others her request for technical help copying that data.

“I did nothing illegal,” Frank told The Post via text message Wednesday morning. He said the FBI has not served him with a search warrant.

On his show, Lindell also displayed a grand jury subpoena dated Sept. 7, which he said the FBI agents gave him. The subpoena sought “documents/objects” for a federal grand jury hearing in Grand Junction, Colo., on Nov. 3. Lindell showed The Post a copy of the subpoena and said his understanding was that it did not require him to testify.

“As a subpoena recipient, you are not under an obligation of secrecy,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Teitelbaum wrote. “However, we request that you not disclose the existence of this subpoena for an indefinite period of time.”

Bryan Pietsch and Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.

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