The strangest thing about the Republican Party under Donald Trump, is that the Republican Party has sworn allegiance to Donald Trump. Really, it’s hard to top that one. But the second strangest thing may be the way that Trump has uncorked the bottle and turned the entire party into a host mess of ever more tangled conspiracy theories; a place where the least qualified person, screaming the least reasonable statements, with the worst possible evidence, is placed in the highest regard.
In the days when evolution was poorly understood, there was an infamous chart—still all too familiar—that showed a hypothesized march of progress, starting with a knuckle-walking ape, past a series of slouch-shouldered ape men, to a modern human. It’s now possible to plot that same chart in reverse, starting with a semi-reasonable Romney-esque figure, descending past Trump, past a Rudy Giuliani dripping with hair dye, past a Kraken-infused Sidney Powell, and even past would-be kidnapper Michael Flynn. At the end of this literal Descent of Man, stands the towering mustachioed figure of … Mike Lindell.
Lindell is a man whose sole success in life consists 100% of concocting an infomercial that allowed him to sell bags of shredded foam as if they contained some special magic. Which, admittedly, is a pretty good trick. But Lindell seems to have confused his expertise in hawking polyurethane nuggets as something that gives him special insight into the world at large. And, all too believably, Lindell has ascended to the top of Bullshit Mountain as the man Trump is genuinely counting on to get him back in office, not in 2024, but in August.
But in the meantime, Lindell has a court case to fight. On Thursday he filed a lawsuit against Dominion Voting Machines and Smartmatic USA. And it’s not just any lawsuit, because this one comes with color illustrations.
Lindell’s lawsuit is an interesting artifact. Sort of in the same way that a dead rat is an interesting artifact of the Black Death.
It’s unclear if Lindell actually secured any sort of legal counsel in order to file his suit. It’s absolutely clear that it wasn’t necessary. Because what Lindell handed the court has the same relationship to an actual suit as a couple of clowns in a horse suit have to Secretariat. In particular—Fact: Putting the word “Fact” at the beginning of a statement doesn’t make it a statement of fact. Especially when every one of the statements that follow is, at best, wild conjecture. And assembling a stack of these “facts” into a Jenga tower doesn’t make them any more factual.
In two sequential “fact” statements, Lindell first declares that Dominion is actually “a state actor” because it controls elections, then declares the “fact” that he can slander Dominion in any way he wants. Because it’s a state actor. Once that’s out of the way, Lindell follows up with the “fact” that he’s already proven that the 2020 election was rigged. That includes twenty hacks “primarily by actors in China that alone changed the outcomes of the presidential race in the 2020 General Election.”
Lindell has not only mastered the art of the “fact” statement, he’s also clearly nailed the use of legal footnotes. As when he uses the term “Lawfare” in statement, then puts this at the bottom of the page: “Lawsuit Warfare = Lawsuit + Warfare = Lawfare.” That comes complete with a Wikipedia link, so you know it’s all legal.
Much of the opening pages of this 82-page missive, is dedicated to laying out these facts. It takes all the way to page 10 before Lindell steals a title from a Terminator sequel and begins to simply write a stream-of-consciousness play on “The Rise of the Machines.” And, of course, it’s all there. The way that votes can be altered through “the algorithm,” the way that votes are actually tabulated on servers in Spain and Germany. And naturally, whole chapters are devoted to the way that Smartmatic is somehow both a servant of China because it has offices in Taiwan, while “continuing its close relationship as a contractor for the Hugo Chavez-controlled government of Venezuela.”
Oh, and that section of the lawsuit opens with a Shakespeare quote. Take that, ordinary lawsuits.
Lindell’s crackpotpedia is chockablock with statements that are apparently damning to his highly calibrated eye, such as noting that American Information Systems was founded by “the Urosevich brothers, descendants of Serbian immigrants,” that Dominion has an office in Belgrade, and that one Smartmatic engineer was “Venezuelan-born.” Apparently in Lindell’s mind, anyone who was ever born, lived, worked, outside the United States (or is descended from anyone who didn’t rise up from spontaneously from America’s polyurethane-infused soil) is part of a vast international conspiracy.
Just to give one relatively mild example of the thread plucking, here’s part 52 in Lindell’s “rise of the machines” section:
In 2018, Dominion was acquired by a private equity firm, Staple Street Capital, whose largest shareholder, David Mark Rubenstein, is a co-founder of The Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is a global investment firm with longstanding and enormous investments in China. In 2020, mere months before the election, Staple Street Capital (owner of Dominion) received a $400 million investment from UBS Securities, LLC. UBS Securities LLC owns 24.99% of UBS Securities Co. LTD, a Chinese investment bank. The remaining 75% of UBS Securities Co. LTD is owned by the Chinese government or various arms of it.
Well, that’s definitive proof of … what again? Oh wait, Lindell brings it home just two sections later to say that by the time of the 2020 election, “Chinese government-related entities, Chinese technology companies, and powerful Chinese financial interests had direct or indirect ownership of and near-total access to Dominion’s and Smartmatic’s voting machine technology.”
Really, Lindell has cooked up a Mulligan stew of conspiracy theories that includes not only nefarious actions by everyone from China to Space to Germany to Serbia and Venezuela (and that’s a far from complete list), he also insists that this conspiracy was covered up by the media, including the nefarious YouTube.
The lifespan of Lindell’s suit once it’s taken up by the court will make mayflies seem like Methuselah and this whole game of Six Degrees of Hugo Chavez should immediately be recognized as ridiculous. And yet … this is where we are. Mike Lindell isn’t just filing the courts with nonsense suits in defense of a web of lies, he’s turning his foam-gotten fortune into a whole new scam.
The image of Lindell—who really does bring this particular putsch the mustache it’s been missing—as a broken-down lounge singer headlining a slate of third-tier scam artists is both pitiful and hilarious. Unfortunately, it’s a scam whose goal isn’t just moving jars of patent medicine or lumpy sleep spoilers.
A party that worships Donald Trump is a party that, by definition, is owned by scammers. But the victims of this scam go beyond the Republican Party.