Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and Donald Trump ally who has been a leading voice in pushing conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, must pay $5 million to a software forensics expert who debunked a series of false claims as part of a “Prove Mike Wrong” contest, an arbitration panel said Wednesday.
Lindell had issued the challenge at a “cybersymposium” in South Dakota in 2021, saying he had data that would support his claims that there was Chinese interference in the election and offering the seven-figure prize to anyone who could prove the data had no connection to the 2020 election.
And because the software expert, Robert Zeidman, successfully did so, the panel, which was composed of three members of the American Arbitration Association, ordered that Lindell would have to pay up.
“Almost everyone there was pro-Trump, and everyone said, ‘This data is nonsense,’” Zeidman said in an interview Thursday, identifying himself as a Republican who voted twice for Trump. “A false narrative about election fraud is just really damaging to this country.”
The ruling against Lindell was earlier reported by The Washington Post.
Zeidman, 63, who is from Las Vegas, filed the arbitration claim against Lindell in November 2021 after the contest’s organizers rejected his findings. The claim was filed in Minnesota, Lindell’s home state.
The arbitrators ordered him to pay Zeidman within 30 days.
Lindell, who has spent millions of dollars on partisan reviews of voting data and efforts to bolster election skeptics across the country, vowed in an interview to challenge the panel’s ruling.
“This is disgusting,” he said. He questioned Zeidman’s credentials and mused about how he had been granted admission to the symposium.
Zeidman, who described himself as a “well-known” pioneer in the field of software forensics, said that he used his connections in the Trump world to obtain an invitation to Lindell’s symposium.
“Friends of mine said, ‘You should go because you might win $5 million,’ " he said.
When conference organizers gave Zeidman and other attendees data to dissect, he said that he expected it might take weeks to analyze. But once he started going through the files, he said he quickly concluded that the data was bogus. He presented his findings to Lindell’s representatives in a 15-page report.
The $5 million claim against Lindell is a pittance compared with a pending $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit that the election equipment company Dominion Voting Systems filed against him in 2021 over his assertions that its machines were part of a plot to steal the election. This week, the company reached a $787.5 million settlement with Fox News as part of a similar defamation lawsuit.
NEW YORK TIMES
Appeals court halts House interview with ex-Trump prosecutor
A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked House Republicans from questioning a former Manhattan prosecutor about the criminal case against ex-President Donald Trump, the latest twist in a legal battle between Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office and the House Judiciary Committee.
The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit issued an administrative stay late Wednesday, hours after a lower court judge ruled there was no legal basis to block the Judiciary Committee’s subpoena to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz. Committee chair Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, had sought to question him Thursday.
In issuing the stay, Judge Beth Robinson noted that her order “reflects no judgment regarding the merits” of the case. A three-judge panel will ultimately weigh whether to uphold or overturn the lower-court’s decision. Robinson, a Biden appointee, set an aggressive briefing schedule, ordering Bragg’s office to file court papers detailing its appeal by Friday and for the Judiciary Committee to submit its response by Saturday.
Bragg’s office appealed to the 2nd Circuit hours after US District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil rejected his request for a temporary restraining order, ruling Wednesday that Jordan had a valid legislative purpose in issuing the subpoena.
“It is not the role of the federal judiciary to dictate what legislation Congress may consider or how it should conduct its deliberations in that connection,” Vyskocil wrote in a 25-page opinion. “Mr. Pomerantz must appear for the congressional deposition. No one is above the law.”
Vyskocil, a Trump appointee, ruled after peppering lawyers on both sides with questions, asking them to parse thorny issues of sovereignty, separation of powers, and Congressional oversight arising from Trump’s historic indictment.
Acknowledging the “political dogfights” surrounding the case, the judge said in her ruling that she “does not endorse either side’s agenda.” She encouraged both sides to speak and “reach a mutually agreeable compromise” on how Pomerantz’s deposition will proceed.
Jordan’s spokesperson, Russell Dye, lauded Vyskocil’s ruling, saying it showed that “Congress has the ability to conduct oversight and issue subpoenas to people like Mark Pomerantz.”
Bragg’s office appealed, first asking Vyskocil to issue a stay — which she rejected — before finding success with the appeals court.
Pomerantz once oversaw the years-long Trump investigation but left the job after clashing with Bragg over the direction of the case. He recently wrote a book about his work pursuing Trump and discussed the investigation in interviews on “60 Minutes” and other shows.
Trump won’t get note excusing absence from rape suit
The judge overseeing E. Jean Carroll’s civil sexual assault lawsuit against Donald Trump denied the former president’s request that jurors be told he’d been excused from attending the trial next week, saying it was up to Trump to decide if he wants to show up.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan issued his ruling Thursday, dismissing Trump’s claim that his presence would overburden the city with security concerns. The judge said defendants in such cases aren’t required to attend their trials. The former president sought the special jury instruction because he said he didn’t want the jury to think negatively of his absence. The trial starts April 25 in Manhattan.
“As far as the Court is aware, Mr. Trump is under no legal obligation to be present or to testify,” the judge said. “The plaintiff has made clear that she does not intend to call him as a witness. The decision whether to attend or to testify is his alone to make. There is nothing for the Court to excuse.”
Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, blasted Trump’s request in a letter to the judge Wednesday night, arguing that Trump managed to speak at a recent National Rifle Association meeting and attend an Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Miami on top of scheduling a political event in New Hampshire next week. The judge agreed.
“The Court notes from Mr. Trump’s campaign website and media reports that he announced earlier this week that he will speak at a campaign event in New Hampshire on April 27, 2023, the third day of the scheduled trial in this case,” the judge said. “If the Secret Service can protect him at that event, certainly the Secret Service, the Marshals Service, and the City of New York can see to his security in this very secure federal courthouse.”
Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina declined to comment.
Carroll, a former advice columnist with Elle magazine, alleges Trump raped her in the 1990s in a department store dressing room in Manhattan. Both Carroll and Trump are making last-minute preparations for the rare trial of a former president in the civil suit Carroll filed last year. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claims the lawsuit is part of a broader witchhunt against him.
Trump’s lawyer said in a Wednesday letter to the judge that Trump wants to attend, but the “logistical and financial burdens on New York” would be significant, especially after the media frenzy that accompanied Trump’s arraignment earlier this month in an unrelated criminal case brought against him by the Manhattan district attorney over financial records.
Carroll’s lawyer called the argument “flimsy.”