One week ago, when Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis read out this list of 19 people indicted for a plot to steal Georgia’s presidential election, many of the names were familiar from the two-and-a-half years of fallout from Donald Trump’s attempted coup. Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell and others: Willis read a seemingly exhaustive list of every buffoonish character who signed onto a conspiracy to install a TV game show host as dictator. In addition, there were 30 other unindicted co-conspirators, who were unnamed in the document but whose identities have likely been uncovered by reporters at the Daily Beast: people like Bernie Kerik, Phil Waldron, Tim Fitton, and Boris Epshteyn. Truly, a stunning array of the biggest scumbags in America.
But there is one name that eagle-eyed observers who have closely followed this story will note is missing: Mike Lindell, the comically self-important maniac who founded the second-rate linens company MyPillow.
Kanye West’s old publicist, Trevian Kutti, got to be listed as part of what the charges describe as Trump’s “criminal enterprise,” but poor old Mikey boy didn’t rate a mention in the 98-page document. Same story with the hefty indictments filed against Trump in federal court by special prosecutor Jack Smith. Reporters quickly figured out who the six unnamed co-conspirators in the 2020 election interference and Capitol riot indictment were, but the MyPillow founder was not one of them. I guess Mike Lindell just wasn’t important enough to the Big Lie conspiracy to rate a mention, much less a pile of indictments of his own. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying on his part. Throughout the attempted coup and in the many months since, Lindell has been among the most eager beavers of the Big Lie gang. At the time, he always made sure to be seen going in and out of the White House as though he was participating in the scheming. As late as January 15, 2021, he was showing off for the cameras, letting White House reporters see a stack of papers he was dramatically touting that suggested last-ditch plans for Trump to order a military coup.
Since then, Lindell has spent untold millions of dollars pursuing various harebrained ideas to claw back President Joe Biden’s electoral victory and somehow “reinstate” Trump to the White House. Much, if not most, of that money has thankfully been pocketed by fraudsters taking advantage of Lindell’s delusional belief that he can simply spend his way into the fascist dictatorship of his dreams.
It’s been over two years since the coup, and while Lindell’s fellow conspirators are facing the prospect of jail, he’s mostly coasting along, still hyping the Big Lie and still being exploited by grifters. On Wednesday, he had another embarrassing event, billed as an “election crime” summit, in which he would supposedly offer the big breakthrough to “fix the elections.” Instead, the event was a confusing flop, and unsurprisingly, continued to advance no evidence of the “stolen” election.
But hey, he got Steve Bannon to give a nasty speech, because Bannon will always reliably show up where fools are being parted from their money.
The yawning lack of law enforcement interest in Lindell has got to smart. It really underscores a suspicion many have had about Lindell’s role in the coup: The plotters were keeping him around for his money but didn’t actually take him seriously enough to involve him in the criminal conspiracy. Lindell is like one of those creepy adult men who hangs out with high school kids: They only tolerate him because he buys them beer. And like those men, he’s pathetic on two levels: in the company he wanted to keep, and the fact that he was too lame even for them.
As the indictments from both Willis and Smith show, the people involved in Trump’s coup aren’t just fascist, they’re big old dorks who almost seem to be play-acting, even as their crimes are quite real. One of the long-standing questions hanging over this debacle has been why all these people went along with Trump’s preposterous and dangerous plan to steal the election. Reading the indictments, one gets the impression that, for a lot of them, a not-small aspect of it is that they were bored. Most of them are wealthy, privileged people living coddled lives. Joining up with a coup seems like it was a thrilling adventure, so very different from their otherwise beige-colored Republican golf-playing lives. Of course, the risk-taking was especially stupid and reckless because, unlike inexperienced criminals, these folks — many of them lawyers — should have had a good idea of what they were getting themselves into.
We also saw this phenomenon with the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6. It became the most well-documented crime in history, because the insurrectionists themselves photographed and videoed every moment of it. They seemed to think they were tourists at an amusement park, like storming the Capitol is a Disney exhibition instead of a violent attack. But, of course, their fantasy role-play led them to commit very real crimes, and many of them are paying for it in prison.
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Indeed, another connection between the fake electors scheme plot and the Capitol riot was exposed last week. CNN broke the news that Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer who was indicted in Georgia and one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the federal case, was part of the Capitol riot on January 6. Using the ample footage from that day, CNN found that Chesebro was shadowing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who had used his popular online show to rally Trump supporters to D.C. in an effort to halt the electoral vote count. It’s not clear yet if Chesebro can be charged for his participation in the riot, but the story underscores how, from top to bottom, Trump’s coup was manned by a bunch of knuckleheads propelled into real trouble after trying to act out their power fantasies.
But poor Mike Lindell wasn’t even cool enough to be a real member of the clown car coup. These folks let wild-eyed Sidney Powell and hair dye-sweating Rudy Giuliani into their inner circle. No wonder Lindell thought he had a chance to get in — yet no cigar. He’s hit a level of bumbling crazy so off-the-charts that even these people knew to keep him at arm’s length. This is more humiliating than being turned away from a stamp collecting convention for being too nerdy. For most people, not being indicted for organized crime is a good thing. For Lindell, it’s just one more reminder that he sucks so much that he couldn’t even be friends with the worst people in the country.
about Mike Lindell’s misfortunes