A member of the Proud Boys who was working as an FBI informant was present at the January 6 riot at the US Capitol and sent his FBI handler live updates by text message, indicating the law enforcement agency had real-time knowledge that a pro-Trump mob was headed toward the building.
The informant, who was associated with the Midwestern chapter of the organization, told the FBI that members of the Proud Boys were following the mob but maintained the group didn’t have plans to attack the US Capitol.
The informant described meeting up with other members of the Proud Boys at the Washington Monument on the morning of January 6 before they moved to the Capitol, records show, according to the Times. The informant described seeing barriers knocked over and Trump supporters entering the building.
The handler didn’t appear to understand that the Capitol had been breached, according to the records obtained by the Times. The records were provided to the outlet on the grounds it would not quote directly from them, according to the report.
The informant began working with federal investigators in July 2020, records said, according to the Times.
The records do not indicate whether the informant could’ve intentionally misled federal investigators, according to the report. The informant’s statements pose difficulties for federal prosecutors who aim to make the case that rioters at the capitol associated with the Proud Boys in advance planned to storm the building.
Prosecutors have filed conspiracy charges against 15 members of the Proud Boys relating to the January 6 riot, The Times noted. In total, at least 654 people have faced charges related to their participation in the January 6 riot, according to an Insider database.
The FBI was investigating at least two other people involved in the January 6 riot who may have been connected to the Proud Boys, according to the report.
A person familiar with the situation told The New York Times the FBI had another informant present on January 6 who was affiliated with another chapter of the Proud Boys.
“While the F.B.I.’s standard practice is not to discuss its sources and methods, it is important to understand that sources provide valuable information regarding criminal activity and national security matters,” the FBI told The New York Times in a statement.
Lindell said the event would prove his voter-fraud theories
Mike Lindell, a leading promoter of baseless voter-fraud conspiracy theories, has spent months gathering information that he said would prove that China helped Joe Biden to “steal” the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump.
This culminated in the MyPillow CEO holding a 72-hour “cyber symposium” in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, between Tuesday and Thursday.
Lindell claimed that he had 37 terabytes of information related to voter fraud to reveal at the cyber symposium, which was livestreamed on his website, Frank. He said he’d give $5 million to anyone who could disprove the data, provided they attend the event in person.
The event featured controversial speakers, as well as a documentary played on repeat
Speakers at the event included conspiracy theorists Ronald Watkins, Raheem Kassam, and Steve Bannon, as well as the son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Throughout the event Lindell slammed multiple news outlets – including another attack on Fox News where he implied that he wouldn’t trust the network to report the weather.
“I said the other day they should be a weather channel,” the MyPillow CEO said Tuesday, per The Washington Times. “And the next day I changed my mind because they wouldn’t report an oncoming storm.”
Lindell has clashed with Fox News several times over the past few months after the outlet stepped up its content moderation and refused to cover some of his debunked theories about the 2020 presidential election.
Lindell attempted to have the defamation lawsuit dismissed, but a US district judge ruled on Wednesday the suit could proceed in full.
“After news emerged at about 6 p.m. on Wednesday that his attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed was unsuccessful, Lindell was seen on video getting off his seat and rushing off the stage abruptly, disappearing behind a dark curtain,” Insider’s Cheryl Teh reported.
The livestream was instead replaced by a video reel showing articles about voter fraud, alongside an image of Lindell hugging a pillow.
A reporter was reportedly removed from the event – but snuck back in
According to Salon’s Petrizzo, a reporter from far-right outlet The Gateway Pundit was “frog-marched” out of the event Wednesday afternoon.
Petrizzo told Insider that the reporter has been “super rude” and “very aggressive” towards another journalist. Petrizzo said the Pundit reporter also shoved a camera in his face and surreptitiously recorded his laptop.
The Pundit did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Lindell said he got attacked and claimed Antifa was trying to infiltrate the event
Lindell said on Thursday morning that he had been attacked on Wednesday night when he got back to his hotel room.
A Sioux Falls Police Department spokesperson told The Associated Press that his officers had taken a report about an assault at a hotel near the symposium at 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday. They did not say whether Lindell was involved in the incident.
Retired army colonel Phil Waldron said that they had received “credible threat warnings” around two weeks beforehand, and that they had “somebody working in the crowd … detecting threats.”
He added that there were “really radical folks outside trying to penetrate” the event and that attendees were exchanging press badges in the parking lot.
“The big end game is to discredit all the legislators who have had the courage to be here,” Waldron said. “They’re obviously trying to subdue the message that Mike’s trying to get out.”
“So this is a typical insurrection-type activity,” he added.
Lindell also said that his staffers had told him that “Antifa things” were trying to infiltrate the event.
Lindell’s website Frank sent out an email to subscribers Thursday afternoon with the subject: “Mike Lindell and His Cyber Symposium Attacked — Please Share Everywhere.”
The email included video footage of Lindell talking about the attack at the event and Waldron speaking about the alleged security threats.
The event also included prayers and the national anthem
The son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gave MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell a Make Great America hat signed by former President Donald Trump.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, who is also a politician, attended part of the 72-hour “cyber symposium” held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota by Lindell, who has been a leading promoter of voter-fraud conspiracy theories.
After stepping onto the stage the early hours of Tuesday, Bolsonaro gave Lindell a red MAGA hat which he said Trump had given him when they met on Monday.
The hat was signed “to Mike, a great patron,” Bolsonaro claimed. Lindell said: “Thank you Mr President, our real president.”
Lindell, who said in April that he still spoke to Trump about once a month, is a leading promoter of baseless voter-fraud conspiracy theories that posit that China helped Joe Biden “steal” the presidential election from Trump.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell was fact-checked by a CNN reporter over his baseless voter-fraud claims – and he wasn’t happy about it.
Lindell said the reporter, CNN’s Drew Griffin, was wrong, accused him of lying, and even offered him a hug.
Lindell has repeatedly challenged the integrity of the 2020 election. In an interview with Griffin Thursday, Lindell said he had proof that “100%” showed China hacked the election and changed votes from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden.
Lindell said he would reveal his proof at a so-called “cyber symposium” due to take place in South Dakota next week.
He had sent CNN a snippet of the data a few days before his interview. Griffin said CNN had shown the data – which consisted of six screenshots – to nine cybersecurity experts, who all said it was proof of nothing.
Griffin said CNN had also spoken to election officials in the 15 counties whose votes Lindell claims were hacked. The election officials all said they used paper ballots counted by systems not connected to the internet, per Griffin, and that they had no evidence the votes were hacked.
“I don’t think you really understand how votes are cast, collected, and tabulated in the country,” Griffin said to Lindell.
“You know what, I do,” Lindell said. “What you don’t understand is after they’re tabulated they can get hacked after the fact, which they were, because Donald Trump was going to win anyway.”
Griffin said that the paper ballots were audited against the machine count. “No they weren’t!” Lindell said. “Who told you that?”
When Griffin said it was the county officials, Lindell replied: “Well they’re going to have some answering to do.”
Griffin asked whether the county officials were lying.
“I don’t know,” Lindell said. “They might be misconstrued … they don’t realize what happened.”
Later in the interview, Griffin told Lindell that he could “possibly be the victim of a scam” over his support for voter-fraud conspiracy theories.
“Well then why don’t you come to the symposium and make $5 million?” Lindell replied, referring to the cash prize he said he would give to anyone who debunks his alleged voter-fraud data at the event. “Are you worried about me? We should have a hug. Are you worried about old Mike? Oh, God bless you.”
Griffin replied that he was “worried that what you are doing is mistakenly or deliberately destroying the confidence in the legitimate, elected president of the United States and fostering what could be real damage to this country.”
Lindell claimed he’d “never said anything bad about Biden or the Democrats. Ever! Never.” He said Griffin was “wrong … You’re lying.”
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and leading promoter of voter fraud conspiracy theories, said he’d give $5 million to anyone who can disprove data that he claims shows election interference.
But there’s a catch. To be eligible, you have to attend his upcoming cyber symposium conference, which is taking place in South Dakota between August 10 and 12.
And the event isn’t open to the public, according to an advert for the event posted on Lindell’s website Frank. Invitees include current politicians, cyber experts, and the media, though it will also be streamed for 72 hours on Frank.
Lindell said he wants the symposium to be the most-watched live event in history, and is aiming for 1 billion people to watch it via his website, Salon’s Zachary Petrizzo reported. He has reserved 800 rooms for the event, but few officials have said they will attend.
There is nothing to suggest Lindell’s event will draw anywhere close to those numbers. For context, the most-watched Super Bowl ever drew in around 114 million viewers, and the first 2020 presidential debate had a total of 73 million viewers.
At the event, “Mike will reveal the cyber data and the packet captures from the November 2020 election,” the advert says. “A $5,000,000 prize will be offered to any attendee who can prove that this cyber data is not valid data from the November 2020 election.”
Lindell told Steve Bannon on Monday that he has 37 terabytes of information related to voter fraud, Salon reported.
Kevin Skoglund, president and chief technologist of Citizens for Better Elections, told The Dispatch that Lindell’s data theory is “technically incoherent and wrong in several ways.” According to Skoglund, Lindell claims that his team of anonymous experts collected internet traffic from foreign computers that infiltrated US voting systems.
“An extraordinary claim needs extraordinary evidence,” Skoglund said to The Dispatch. “And they provide little evidence at all.”
Lindell, who said in April that he still spoke to Trump around once a month, has repeatedly supported the former president’s debunked claims challenging the integrity of the 2020 election.
Discussing the media, Lindell said: “I’ve invited them all to the symposium. Why don’t you prove it there so then you can win $5 million?”
This isn’t the first time Lindell has held an event to spout his voter-fraud theories.
He also held a so-called “Frank Rally” at the Corn Palace in South Dakota in May to celebrate the launch of the site, which features videos and articles, many by right-wing conspiracy theorists, that largely focus on voter fraud.
The venue for the Frank Rally could fit around 3,000 attendees – but pictures circulating on Twitter showed that it was only half full.
The rally featured talks from Ben Carson, Trump’s secretary of housing and urban development, and conservative podcaster Eric Metaxas, as well as Lindell himself, who spread voter-fraud theories including an inflated estimate of Trump’s vote total in the 2020 presidential election.
Attendees received a free copy of both Lindell’s autobiography and his self-made voter-fraud film “Absolute Proof.”
Toyota said Thursday it would stop donating to Republicans who objected to Joe Biden’s certification as president, after the automaker came under fire from watchdogs and activists for giving tens of thousands of dollars to these lawmakers.
The company was the target of an advert from anti-Donald Trump campaign group the Lincoln Project on Thursday, which said that the automaker had given “more money than any company to the seditious politicians who voted to overturn the 2020 election result.”
The Lincoln Project shared a statement from Toyota after the ad’s publication, which said that its PAC’s decision to donate to the objectors had “troubled some stakeholders.”
“At this time, we have decided to stop contributing to those Members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 election,” its statement read.
The left-leaning watchdog Citizens for Ethics said in July that Toyota’s PAC had donated $56,000 total to 38 GOP objectors since January, making it the biggest donor to the individual objectors and their leadership PACs – while Popular Information said that the company’s PAC has donated $62,000 to 40 lawmakers.
After a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 to try and prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s win, many top US companies scrambled to cut ties with the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against the results.
Toyota did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. A Toyota spokesperson told Insider in May that the company “supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company.”
“We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” the spokesperson said at the time. “Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.” The spokesperson did not say who those members were.
Supporters of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell stood in line for hours to attend his rally in South Dakota on Monday – but the Corn Palace venue was only half-full for the event.
Lindell held the rally to launch “Frank,” the website he billed as a social-media site, but is so far a one-way platform for him to spread baseless allegations of voter fraud.
Photos shared on Twitter show lines snaking around the Corn Palace in Mitchell. The Dickinson Press reported that some people stood in line for up to seven hours for the free event, which let people in on a first-come, first-served basis.
Lindell, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly pushed disproven voter-fraud conspiracy theories about the presidential election, leading to voting-machine company Dominion suing him for $1.3 billion.
Some attendees at Monday’s event brought along Trump merchandise, including hats and flags. Salon.com’s Zachary Petrizzo reported that a group of far-right Proud Boy members attended, citing a source at the event.
The event featured talks from Ben Carson, Trump’s secretary of housing and urban development, who joined on video call, and conservative podcaster Eric Metaxas. Comedian Joe Piscopo of “Saturday Night Live” fame performed a music set, which included the national anthem.
This was followed by a 90-minute speech from Lindell, who spread voter-fraud theories, including claims that Trump got 80 million votes in the 2020 presidential election, per Newsweek. The Federal Election Commission says that Trump got just over 72 million votes.
The site features videos and articles, many written by Lindell himself, that largely focus on voter-fraud conspiracy theories. Some also spread misinformation about the coronavirus, with one article calling vaccines “a deadly depopulation bioweapon.”
Lindell regularly livestreams from the site, hosting other right-wing personalities.
Lindell said the last time he spoke to Trump was “a couple of weeks ago,” when they discussed the US border.
Lindell, a major GOP donor, was a staunch Trump ally during the former president’s time in the White House, and has repeatedly supported the unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.
He visited Trump at the White House multiple times, including speaking at a COVID-19 briefing. He also met Trump during Trump’s final week in office, leading to viral photos of him carrying printed notes referencing “martial law.”
“I’ve talked to him once every … maybe month or so, if I’m down there,” Lindell said, without explaining where he meant.
Kimmel then asked Lindell when they last spoke.
“A couple of weeks ago I guess, when he said he was worried about what was going down at the border,” Lindell said. “He said: ‘I’m really worried about what’s going on.'” He did not elaborate on what else specifically they discussed.
Tightening the border between the US and Mexico and clamping down on immigration was a cornerstone of Trump’s 2016 election campaign. During his time in office, he issued anti-immigration executive orders, and tried to build a $15 billion border wall between the two countries, which people are now climbing over with $5 ladders.
Lindell told Kimmel that he first met Trump in August 2016 when he “didn’t know anything about politics.”
“I met this man who had problems, solutions, and he knew what they manifest to,” he said.
Lindell said that after he met Trump he thought “wow, this guy could be the greatest president ever.”
He said that when he returned to Minnesota, he told the press that they had met, which he said led to a huge public backlash. “I was attacked like you’ve never seen,” he said.