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MyPillow Guy’s Firm Damaged By Failed Mask Venture

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's botched mask venture has become a bottomless pit of losses that he still has not yet recovered from. During a phone interview with The Daily Beast, the controversial CEO and Trump ally detailed the financial strain he is now facing as a result of the failed venture which has cost him millions.

Back in March of 2020, Lindell announced plans to create and donate cloth masks to frontline workers. However, that plan quickly hit a wall as cloth masks did not meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criteria for face coverings. The issues did not stop there. As the months progressed, Lindell was faced with an even bigger problem.

Now, the CEO is stuck will millions of face coverings his company cannot get rid of. With many states becoming more lenient where face coverings are concerned, the demand for masks has slightly decreased since the onset of the pandemic. "I can't give them away," Lindell said during the interview this week "I tried to. No one wants the things anymore."

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The controversial CEO reportedly claims to have reconstructed his company's manufacturing line so it could produce cloth masks. Now, the equipment and machinery acquired for mask-making just sit in a corner collecting dust and serving no purpose. Since Lindell was only able to dump a meager five percent of the mask inventory, he is still stuck with more than $7 million in useless cloth.

"All of a sudden, there was masks everywhere, almost as if the industry knew it was coming and waited for prices to go up," Lindell said. "Now I probably got $7 million out of my pocket that we're just stuck with."

As a devout MAGA supporter who devolved into an anti-masker, Lindell's decision to speak with the publication does come as a bit of a surprise.

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He also admitted that he believed the publication would "unfairly spin his mask enterprise as a 'failure.'" But despite the botched venture and his abrupt about-face on masks, he attempted to defend his mask products as he insisted "it helped so many people back then."

Stop Calling The Arizona Recount Charade An ‘Audit’

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Now in its seventh week, the pointless review of two million ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous outpost, has not only emerged as a dishonest, partisan circus, it's also a blueprint for how right-wing conspiracists want to treat future GOP election losses. Along the way, they're deliberately destroying faith in the democratic process.

As the "fraudits" spread to other states, and as it becomes clear that hard-core Republican fanatics will stop at nothing in their pursuit of overturning the 2020 election, it's imperative the press undertake a course correction and stop calling these partisan sham events "audits." They're not going away and the press needs a better, more exact way to describe them. By adopting GOP "audit" language, journalists are doing the right wing's bidding and undermining confidence in U.S. elections.

Once again, the GOP's radical and dangerous behavior in the age of Trump ought to prompt news outlets to change the language they use to cover American politics. There is no precedent for a former U.S. president to barnstorm the country insisting his election loss was fraudulent and claiming "Indians" were paid to vote in 2020. And there's no precedent for the mockery that's being made out of ballot-counting in Arizona, a charade that even local Republican election officials have dismissed as a "grift disguised as an audit."

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The question is, how does the media cover the Grand Canyon State's slow-motion train wreck? By using "audit" without including qualifiers, such as "so-called," "alleged," or "absurd," the press lends an undeserved air of legitimacy to the clown proceedings. The language use becomes especially problematic when "audit" is deployed in headlines, which is what most people end up reading, instead of the body of the article. A New York Times front-page, print headline yesterday read, "Arizona's Vote Audit Is Scorned. Republicans Press On, Anyway."

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On Twitter, Washington Post editors were promoting an article about "the national push by Trump allies to audit 2020 ballots." (The Post constantly refers to the disinformation campaign as an "audit.")

For casual news consumers, the assumption is that Republicans are simply conducting an audit of the votes, and may start doing them in other states. And what's wrong with an "audit," right? "Audit" sounds serious and precise.

By contrast, NPR took a smart approach with a recent headline, putting the word in quotation marks to signal the dubious nature of the Arizona sham: "Experts Call It A 'Clown Show' But Arizona 'Audit' Is A Disinformation Blueprint." And a recent CNN report referred to the Arizona effort as a "so-called audit" and a "partisan ballot review."

Another good description for the ongoing shenanigans might be an "unofficial review," since the ballot exercise carries no legal weight and cannot change the vote outcome. "Partisan inquisition" is also an accurate offering, as well as "boondoggle," "charade," "farce," and "sham." Using those terms means journalists would have to stand up to Republicans and not be afraid of "liberal media bias" cries that would certainly follow.

The truth is, "Most certified auditors contacted by The Arizona Republic, including accountants, internal auditors, and forensic auditors, say this is not an audit," the state's largest recently newspaper reported.

The ongoing process in the Southwest clearly fails to meet any of the standards required for official recounts or audits by state law. With financial support from My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and a nonprofit set up by a reporter for One America News Network, which has been given exclusive access to livestream from the audit site, Arizona partisans have reportedly scanned ballots with UV lights to look for secret watermarks that fanatics think Trump's Department of Homeland Security placed on legitimate ballots to differentiate them from fake ones. They're also inspecting ballots for traces of bamboo to determine if they were snuck into to the country from Asia.

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Note that a legitimate post-election audit of Maricopa County was conducted one week after last year's election. That is to say, a multiparty audit board conducted a hand count of ballots from a sample of randomly selected voting precincts and compared them with the results from voting machines. For Arizona's largest county, the audit uncovered not a single ballot discrepancy. The county also hired two separate, independent firms to perform a forensic audit of the voting equipment used and found nothing amiss.

What's happening in Arizona is not a recount, either. Recounts typically occur when there's an infinitesimal margin of victory, but Joe Biden won Arizona by 10,000 votes. "In the recount and audit space, 1,000 votes is, for all intents and purposes, a landslide," David Becker, the executive director of the nonpartisan nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research, told FiveThirtyEight. "A margin of 10,000 votes is an off-the-charts landslide" for a recount.

The Arizona ballot charade is a perfect example of conservative extremists trying to create their own reality and their own set of facts, and hoping the mainstream media helps them by adopting misleading language, like an Arizona "audit."

Poll: Nearly One-Third Of GOP Voters Believe Trump Will Be ‘Reinstated’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Nearly one-third of Republicans believe Donald Trump will be likely be "reinstated" in office in August, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday found — the latest lie the GOP base believes surrounding the 2020 election.

The poll found that an overwhelming majority of voters, or 72 percent, say it's "not likely at all" or "not very likely" that Trump will be reinstated. However, 17 percent of Republicans believe it's "very likely" that Trump will be reinstated, while another 12 percent believe reinstatement is "somewhat likely."

Trump himself has been telling advisers that he will be reinstated by August, according to a report from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman confirmed by other outlets.

The lie appears to have emanated from the QAnon conspiracy theory world, which purports that the shambolic audit of the 2020 results underway in Arizona will prove that Trump actually won the state, and will start a domino effect as GOP lawmakers in other states push for similar audits.

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However, the Arizona audit will not overturn the state's 2020 presidential election results, according to which Biden carried it by more than 10,000 votes. Those results not only have already been certified, but also have been verified by three separate previous audits that found no fraud nor irregularities in the vote.

Experts say that the Arizona audit, being run by a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist who pushed lies that the election was stolen, is being run so shoddily and by people who so desperately want to prove fraud exists that the results will be irrevocably tainted.

While the conspiracy theory appears to have started in QAnon circles, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says he believes he is the one who turned Trump on to the baseless idea of "reinstatement."

"If Trump is saying August, that is probably because he heard me say it," Lindell told the Daily Beast on June 2. Lindell is a vocal Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist who has lied about the election being stolen and advocated for Trump to invoke "martial law" to block Joe Biden from taking office.

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Sidney Powell, the ex-Trump campaign lawyer who is being sued for defamation over her voter fraud lies, repeated the reinstatement lie at a QAnon conference in late May.

"He can simply be reinstated ... a new inauguration date is set, and Biden is told to move out of the White House, and President Trump should be moved back in," Powell said at the conference.

The "reinstatement" lie is not the only one GOP voters believe.

Two-thirds of Republicans, or 67 percent, believe that Biden did not legitimately win the election, according to a CBS News poll from May.

And a PRRI-IFYC poll from May found that nearly 30 percent of Republicans believe the QAnon claim that "things have gotten so far off track" in the United States that "true American patriots may have to resort to violence."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Wacky Advisers Have Roped Trump Into Their QAnon Restoration Fantasies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Former President Donald Trump reportedly believes that he will somehow return to office in the coming months, a belief that fits with claims from supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory and far-right message boards. And it appears to have come through his QAnon-connected orbit of advisers who have egged on his voter fraud grievances and who continue to suggest Trump can and should be reinstalled into office based on those false claims.

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reported on June 1 that Trump "has been telling a number of people he's in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August." As Haberman noted, Trump's expectation has no basis in reality. But it echoes a claim that MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has pushed. Lindell -- who has been making false claims of voter fraud for months -- appeared on Steve Bannon's show War Room: Pandemic in March and said that "Trump will be back in office in August" based on supposed evidence of voter fraud. At the time, Lindell's baseless statement -- which he also made around that time on multiple shows -- was hyped by some QAnon supporters and on far-right message boards.

Other figures influencing Trump since last November have also claimed that Trump could somehow come back into office. Attorney Sidney Powell, appearing at a QAnon conference in Dallas on May 29, said that due to supposed voter fraud, Trump could be "reinstated" into office and President Joe Biden forced out of the White House.

The following day, at that same QAnon conference, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was asked why a military coup could not happen in the United States like it did in Myanmar. In response, he said, "No reason. I mean, it should happen here." Although Flynn later tried to walk it back, his statement echoed the widespread praise of the Myanmar coup among the QAnon community and its members' hope of a similar situation in the United States.

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These three figures had not only advised Trump following the 2020 election, but they also have multiple other connections to QAnon. Lindell, who met withTrump in the days before Biden's inauguration, had at that time floated Trump using martial law to stay in office, a call that had been pushed by QAnon supporters. Lindell has also shared voter fraud conspiracy theories from the QAnon community, including content from 8kun, the message board site where the central figure of QAnon is based. Since Biden's inauguration, Lindell has associated with the hosts of a QAnon show, which he has appeared on and praised, and is apparently signing QAnon merchandise for auction. Lindell has also apparently offered "QAnon" as a promo code on MyPillow.

Powell and Flynn have even more explicitly promoted QAnon. Before speaking at the QAnon conference, Powell had repeatedly amplified QAnon influencers, tweeted QAnon language, and appeared on QAnon YouTube shows. Following the election, she cited Ron Watkins, the onetime administrator of 8kun, and other QAnon-connected figures and claims in her lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results in certain states.

Similarly, Flynn (whom Powell has represented) had taken a QAnon oath, signed books with the QAnon slogan "wwg1wga" (short for "where we go one, we go all"), helped sell QAnon merchandise, appeared on QAnon-supporting shows, and hung out with the same QAnon influencer Lindell has become friendly with. Flynn, like Lindell, also encouraged Trump to declare martial law after the election.

Before Biden's inauguration, Trump had floated making Powell a special counsel on election fraud and Flynn the director of the FBI or White House chief of staff.

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But these three are also not the only people through whom QAnon theories were reaching Trump. Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne -- who has gone on multiple QAnon shows to push voter fraud claims and recently has associated with the same QAnon influencer Lindell and Flynn have associated with -- met with Trump post-election. And Lin Wood, a QAnon-supporting attorney who has falsely claimed that Trump is still president, had been aiding Trump's campaign post-election.

Fundamentally, this voter fraud orbit around Trump -- Lindell, Powell, Flynn, Byrne, and Wood -- is part of a pipeline from QAnon supporters and far-right message boards promoting the conspiracy theory that Trump will somehow come back into office. This theory has taken a variety of forms, including claims that Trump would be inaugurated as president on March 4 and/or that the military would install Trump back into office and throw out Biden, whether on a specific day or some day in the future. QAnon supporters have also pointed to and are involved with a supposed election audit in Arizona that they believe will result in Trump returning to the White House. Lindell, Powell, Byrne, and Wood have all been involved with that audit, and Trump in turn is reportedly "fixated" on it.

This pipeline between QAnon supporters and far-right message boards, this group of figures who have advised Trump, and Trump himself partly fueled his voter fraud grievances that helped lead to the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol. And now it threatens to further ensnare Trump -- and in turn, much of the Republican Party and the voting public.