ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) — Pillow magnate, Donald Trump ally and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell filed suit against the FBI late Tuesday, claiming the seizure of his cellphone at a Hardee’s drive-thru in Minnesota violated his civil rights.
In the federal complaint made public Wednesday, Lindell sought the return of his phone and an injunction preventing federal agents from accessing or releasing data found on it.
According to the lawsuit, agents blocked him in at a Hardee’s drive-thru window in the southern Minnesota city of Mankato while he was returning from an Iowa hunting trip. After half an hour of questioning, they revealed they had a warrant to seize his phone.
Lindell’s complaint asserts five civil rights claims: one under the First Amendment, alleging that the seizure was an attempt to intimidate him and others questioning the 2020 election; three under the Fourth Amendment, claiming that seizing his phone rather than subpoenaing specific documents and data was unreasonable, that the method used to track him to the Hardee’s was used without a warrant, and that blocking Lindell’s vehicle into a drive-thru lane and questioning him without reading his Miranda rights was an unreasonable seizure; and one under the Fifth Amendment, alleging that the entire affair violated his right to due process.
After rising to prominence as the face of his company MyPillow, Lindell has spent the last two years promoting the idea that voting machines enabled widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
His complaint says the FBI sought his phone as part of an investigation into Colorado election clerk Tina Peters. A copy of the warrant, presented as an exhibit, supports that idea, saying that Lindell’s phone was seized as part of a search for evidence of identity theft, intentional damage to a protected computer and conspiracy to commit those crimes involving Peters, Lindell and a number of other election conspiracy theorists.
Peters, who has been barred from overseeing midterm elections in Mesa County and whose campaign for Colorado secretary of state ended in a GOP primary loss in June, was indicted in March and charged with seven felonies and three misdemeanors for her alleged involvement in a scheme to breach security protocols for voting machines nationwide. The indictment alleged that Peters allowed an unknown, unauthorized person to make copies of the hard drive of Mesa County’s voting systems and to post them online, along with voting system passwords.
The clerk pleaded not guilty to the charges against her earlier this month, releasing a statement that accused prosecutors of persecuting her in an effort to silence “anyone who dares to question our elections systems.”
Peters appeared onstage at a “cyber symposium” hosted by Lindell in August 2021, where she promised to provide proof of Trump’s stolen election claims. In Lindell’s complaint, he alleged that images Peters took of Dominion Voting Systems’ election management programs proved that a Dominion software update in May 2021 destroyed election records that should have been preserved.
“The Warrant was obtained by the Government in bad faith,” Lindell’s attorneys wrote in the complaint. “Those who were involved in applying for and serving the Warrant were aware that Mr. Lindell depended on his cell phone as his exclusive method of operating his business.”
The government, according to the lawsuit, also did not tell U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung about Lindell’s efforts to expose claimed violations of election law.
Lindell is represented by Andrew Parker, of the local firm Parker Daniels Kibort, along with three Beltway attorneys – Kurt Olsen, of Washington, D.C., Patrick McSweeney, of McSweeney, Cynkar & Kachouroff in Powhatan, Virginia, and prominent conservative attorney Alan Dershowitz.
Parker did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon, and representatives of the FBI, citing a no-comment policy for pending litigation, declined to make one.
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