- Mike Lindell just held a 72-hour voter-fraud “cyber symposium” in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
- Speakers included Ronald Watkins, Steve Bannon, and the son of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.
- Here’s what happened.
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.
And in between speeches, attendees watched a series of videos. This included watching the same conspiracy theory-filled documentary four times on Tuesday, Salon reporter Zachary Petrizzo said.
Jair Bolsonaro’s son gave Lindell a MAGA hat signed by Trump
Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, gave Lindell a “Make America Great Again” hat he said was signed by Trump, on Tuesday.
The hat was signed “to Mike, a great patriot,” Lindell said, adding, “Thank you, Mr. President, our real president.”
Bolsonaro then gave a speech about voter fraud in Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro has suggested that Brazil’s voting machines were used to rig the country’s elections, leading to the country’s election authority launching an investigation into Bolsonaro.
Lindell once against blasted Fox News
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.
This culminated in Lindell pulling MyPillow’s advertisements from Fox News last month after it refused to air ads for his cyber symposium. Lindell was formerly one of the biggest advertisers on Tucker Carlson’s show.
A spokesperson for Fox News told CNN that the network hadn’t sent a reporter to cover the symposium.
Lindell invited a reporter to interview him on stage, before called him a “cancer”
But Fox News wasn’t the only outlet in the firing line.
Lindell has repeatedly sparred with Salon reporter Zachary Petrizzo during interviews, phone calls, and livestreams.
After ranting about Petrizzo’s work on stage Tuesday, including calling his articles “hit jobs,” Lindell texted him later that night inviting him for an interview.
“Zach go write your garbage, and then we will interview on stage,” the text message read.
But on Wednesday, Lindell took back the offer.
“Lose my number. You are a cancer to our country,” he texted Petrizzo, before calling him “insane.”
Insider viewed screenshots of the messages.
Lindell fled the stage after a judge ruled Dominion could proceed with its lawsuit against him
—John Whitehouse+ (@existentialfish) August 11, 2021
Lindell rushed offstage when news broke that the $1.3 billion defamation suit voting-machine company Dominion filed against him would go ahead.
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
—Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) August 12, 2021
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
—Khaya Himmelman (@KhayaHimmelman) August 11, 2021
Before launching into a series of speeches, the second day of the symposium started with morning prayers and the national anthem, The Dispatch’s Khaya Himmelman said.
The size of the audience dwindled over the course of the event, according to reports
—Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) August 12, 2021
Salon’s Petrizzo reported on the first day of the event there were “a ton of Republican state legislators and their staffs.”
But not many attendees stayed until the end of the symposium.