The Big Reveal That Wasn’t

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota—Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO, has been talking about his three-day “cyber forensic symposium” for months. When we last spoke, he told me it was going to be the biggest event in the world. Many, many hundreds of people from across the country would be in attendance. Secretaries of state, attorneys general, governors, cybersecurity experts, and media from across the political spectrum would fill a stadium and watch in near disbelief as he convinced all of the nonbelievers that they were wrong about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. And finally, with his new evidence, everyone in attendance would know Donald Trump had won the election and that as soon as the morning of August 13, the result would be overturned and Trump reinstated.  

Like many of Lindell’s recent fantasies, the symposium he envisioned never materialized. The stately arena that was going to host this huge crowd was actually just a modest event space that held at most 200 people, with an adjacent gun range and a small combined lounge and bar called “Club Lobo.” 

Throughout the event—which took place last Tuesday through Thursday—Lindell, sometimes accompanied by his “experts,” sometimes alone, sat at a glass table on a makeshift stage. Attendees sat on plastic folding chairs surrounding the stage. Certain guests had special seats, with handwritten “reserved” signs taped onto the back of bar stool chairs. The audience, although smaller than expected, seemed for the most part engaged, almost riled up.  At one point an attendee, apropos of nothing, asked if it was time to “bring in the military to stop the coup.”

The event many were promised would be the moment Lindell shared his “PCAPs” with the world. Looking at packet captures is a standard networking way to view traffic over the internet. We provided a comprehensive explanation of PCAPs in a Dispatch Fact Check:  “Traffic over the internet is sent as packets of information. They aren’t encrypted, necessarily, but they are encoded, because they don’t need to be human-readable while they’re in transit.” 

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