Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022

Mike Lindell, a prominent promoter of 2020 election misinformation, was served with a search warrant, and his cellphone was seized, by F.B.I. agents who questioned him about his ties to a Colorado county clerk who is accused of tampering with voting machines, Mr. Lindell said.

Tina Peters, the county clerk in Mesa County, Colo., is under indictment on state charges related to a scheme to download data from election equipment after the 2020 presidential contest. Ms. Peters has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The search is a sign that a federal investigation into Ms. Peters has reached a prominent figure in the national movement to investigate and overturn the 2020 election. Mr. Lindell, the chief executive and founder of MyPillow, is a major promoter of debunked theories that keep alive the false notion that the election was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump.

The Mesa County episode is one of several instances in which local officials and activists motivated by those theories have gained access to voting machines in hopes of proving the theories true. Prosecutors in Michigan and Georgia are also investigating whether data was improperly copied from machines.

It is not clear if Mr. Lindell is a target of the investigation. The F.B.I. field office in Denver confirmed late Tuesday that the bureau had served Mr. Lindell with a warrant, but Deborah Takahara, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, said the office had no further comment. It is also unclear whether others were served search warrants on Tuesday.

In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday night, Mr. Lindell said that he had been in a drive-through line at a Hardee’s fast food restaurant in Mankato, Minn., on Tuesday afternoon, while returning with a friend from a duck-hunting trip in Iowa, when his vehicle was surrounded by several cars driven by federal agents. The agents presented him with a search and seizure warrant and interviewed him for about 15 minutes.

The agents asked him about his relationship to Ms. Peters, he said, and about an image copied from a voting machine in Mesa County that had appeared on Frank Speech, a website and hosting platform that Mr. Lindell operates.

A letter handed to Mr. Lindell by the F.B.I. asked that he not tell anyone about the investigation, but he displayed a copy of the letter and the search warrant on his online TV show Tuesday evening, reading portions of it aloud. “Although the law does not require nondisclosure unless a court order is issued, we believe that the impact of any disclosure could be detrimental to the investigation,” read the letter, signed by Aaron Teitelbaum, an assistant U.S. attorney.

A copy of the search warrant, parts of which were also read aloud by Mr. Lindell, said the government was seeking “all records and information relating to damage to any Dominion computerized voting system.”

Prosecutors have accused Ms. Peters of attempting to extract data from voting machines under her supervision in Mesa County and of enlisting help from a network of activists, some close to Mr. Lindell. The effort was ostensibly an attempt to prove that voting machines had been used to steal the 2020 presidential election. Data that was purported to have come from the machines was later distributed at a conference hosted by Mr. Lindell last year at which Ms. Peters appeared onstage.

The F.B.I. agents “asked if I gave her any money after the symposium,” Mr. Lindell said.

Mr. Lindell once told a local reporter that he had funded Ms. Peters’s legal efforts directly. He now says he was mistaken about his contributions and that he did not directly contribute to her defense. “I was financing everything back then,” he said, referring to the various lawsuits that had been filed in relation to the 2020 election. “I thought I’d financed hers, too.”

Mr. Lindell earlier told The Times that he had funneled as much as $200,000 to her legal defense via his legal fund, the Lindell Legal Offense Fund, through which he had said third-party donors supported various lawsuits and projects. Ms. Peters had directed supporters to donate to that fund.

On his web TV show, which is streamed on Facebook and several other platforms, Mr. Lindell claimed that in their brief interview, F.B.I. agents had also asked about his connection with Douglas Frank, an activist who claims to have mathematical proof that the 2020 election was stolen. Lindell said that the F.B.I. had asked him whether he had employed Mr. Frank.

Mr. Lindell is the target of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which provides voting machines to Mesa County and other jurisdictions and which Mr. Lindell has claimed was responsible for changing the outcome of the 2020 election. He said the warrant had specifically sought data related to Dominion and its machines.

“They think they’re going to intimidate me,” Mr. Lindell told The Times. “That’s disgusting.”



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