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Mike Lindell pranked on livestream by caller pretending to be Donald Trump

Alex Woodward
·4-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Within the first few hours of a 48-hour livestream to cut the digital ribbon on his “free speech”-focused social media platform, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell got hit with two prank callers.

The first claimed to be a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The other was “Donald Trump.”

“We have the president here, our real president, everyone,” Mr Lindell said on Monday. “Hello, Mr. President.”

It was not – the voice on the other end of the line shouted something incoherently, then “bitches.”

“You see what they’re doing?” Mr Lindell said. “They’re attacking us.”

Mr Lindell – suspended from social media companies for pushing election disinformation and the subject of a $1.3bn defamation lawsuit for amplifying voter fraud conspiracies – repeatedly insisted on Monday that his newly launched website, the “power grid” and free speech itself were “under attack” from an unnamed “they” trying to take him offline.

“That was an attack – this is what these attack groups are doing,” he said after another crank call from someone claiming to be a Wall Street Journal reporter.

After the Trump prank, he claimed that “they” are “hacking into our phones.”

Later that evening, the livestream went offline during an interview with right-wing conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza. When the website came back online, he claimed it was under a “massive attack”.

The website, Frank, was set to launch last week for users who entered their phone numbers to receive a code to gain “VIP” access, which has been delayed since Thursday. On Monday morning, he started a two-day “Frank-a-thon” to introduce the site, which was still not accessible for users to register a profile or post.

Frank’s livestream included right-wing personalities and other Trump allies, including Alan Dershowitz, Steve Bannon, Ben Carson, Scott Baio, Ted Nugent and Michael Flynn, reviving a flood of 2020 election conspiracies that have forced Mr Lindell off the air and off social media networks elsewhere.

He also announced on Monday that MyPillow is suing Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6bn, claiming that its employees “live in fear” and have been threatened because of Dominion’s “illegal campaign of intimidation” after suing Mr Lindell for defamation.

Mr Lindell insisted the lawsuit is not a “countermeasure” for the lawsuit against him, but the MyPillow suit explicitly says it intends “to remedy the grave harm that has been suffered by MyPillow as a result of Dominion’s suppression of speech and attacks on the company.”

In a statement to The Independent, Dominion legal counsel Stephen Shackelford of Susman Godfrey LLP said: “This is a meritless retaliatory lawsuit filed by MyPillow to try to distract from the harm it caused to Dominion.”

The former president’s legal team, his Justice Department, the FBI and elections officials across the US have not found or presented any evidence of widespread voter fraud. Audits of vote counts in several states that Mr Trump challenged in the wake of the 2020 presidential election confirmed the outcomes.

Mr Lindell – who produced the two-hour “documentary” Absolute Proof to push debunked conspiracies – said his new website will “dump mountains of evidence every day” about voter fraud and manipulation.

Right-wing cable network One American News Network aired the production with a 90-second disclaimer that Mr Lindell bought the airtime and “does not adopt or endorse any statements or opinions” regarding Dominion and other companies, lawmakers and elections officials named in the production.

Mr Lindell claims that “algorithms” disrupted a vote count that was manipulated by Dominion and election technology company Smartmatic to rig the results for Joe Biden. (Smartmatic has also sued Fox News and three anchors for more than $2bn for promoting similar claims.)

Election fraud conspiracies embraced by the former president have fuelled the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January and prompted federal law enforcement to issue warnings that “ideologically motivated violent extremists” motivated by “perceived grievances fueled by false narratives” could “continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence” in the US.

Voting right groups have also warned that the big lie of election fraud has also propelled dozens of GOP-backed attempts in nearly every state across the US to restrict ballot access.

On Monday’s livestream, Mr Lindell and his guests spent hours claiming they are victims of a censorship campaign that undermines the First Amendment while they attacked journalists for publishing updates about the livestream and lawsuit.

“You’re as much to blame for what’s happening to our country than anybody,” he said.

Frank – what Mr Lindell describes as a combination of Twitter and YouTube – will not allow users to post swear words, porn, death threats or taking “God’s name in vain,” he announced last week.

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