Mike Lindell, a prominent promoter of disinformation about the 2020 election, was given a search warrant and his cell phone seized by FBI agents who questioned him about his ties to a Colorado clerk accused of tampering with voting machines, Mr. Lindell said.
Tina Peters, the county clerk in Mesa County, Colorado, has been charged with state charges related to a plan to download data from election equipment after the 2020 presidential game. 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 undo 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 where local officials and activists motivated by those theories have been given access to voting machines in hopes of proving the theories. Prosecutors in Michigan and Georgia are also investigating whether data was illegally copied from machines.
It is not clear whether Mr Lindell is a target of the investigation. The FBI field office in Denver confirmed late Tuesday that the agency said Mr. Lindell had issued a warrant, but Deborah Takahara, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Denver, said the office had no further comment. It is also unclear whether others received search warrants on Tuesday.
In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday night, Mr. Lindell said he sat in a drive-through queue at a fast food restaurant Hardee’s in Mankato, Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon, returning with a duck friend. hunting trip in Iowa, when his vehicle was surrounded by several cars driven by federal agents. The officers handed him a search warrant and interviewed him for about 15 minutes.
The officers asked him about his relationship with 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 the FBI handed to Mr. Lindell asked him not to tell anyone about the investigation, but he showed a copy of the letter and search warrant on his online TV show Tuesday night and read parts of it. “While the law does not require secrecy unless a court order is issued, we believe the impact of any disclosure could be detrimental to the investigation,” the letter, signed by Aaron Teitelbaum, an assistant attorney in the US Attorney’s Office. US
A copy of the search warrant, parts of which were also read aloud by Mr Lindell, said the government was seeking “any data and information related to damage to a Dominion computerized voting system.”
Prosecutors have accused Ms. Peters of trying to extract data from voting machines under her supervision in Mesa County and of seeking help from a network of activists, some close to Mr. Lindell. The attempt was ostensibly an attempt to prove that voting machines had been used to steal the 2020 presidential election. Data alleged to have come from the machines was later disseminated at a conference hosted by Mr. Lindell last year, at which Ms. Peters took the stage.
The FBI agents “asked if I had given her any money after the symposium,” said Mr. Lindell.
Mr. Lindell once told a local reporter that he had directly funded Ms. Peters’ legal efforts. He now says he was mistaken about his contributions and that he did not directly contribute to her defense. “I funded everything then,” he said, referring to the various lawsuits filed in connection with the 2020 election. “I thought I funded hers too.”
Mr Lindell previously told The Times that he had funneled as much as $200,000 into her legal defense through his legal fund, the Lindell Legal Offense Fund, saying that outside donors supported various lawsuits and projects. Ms. Peters had instructed supporters to donate to that fund.
In his web TV show, which is streamed on Facebook and several other platforms, Mr. Lindell claimed that in their brief interview, FBI agents also asked about his connection to Douglas Frank, an activist who claims to have mathematical proof that the elections of 2020 was stolen. Lindell said the FBI asked him if he hired Mr. Frank.
Mr. Lindell is the target of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which supplies voting machines to Mesa County and other jurisdictions and which Mr. Lindell claimed was responsible for changing the outcome of the 2020 election, he said the warrant had specifically sought data related to Dominion and his machines.
“They think they’re going to intimidate me,” Mr. Lindell told The Times. “That’s disgusting.”