Trump Inadvertently Helps Judge Deny Mike Lindell’s Bid to Get Seized Phone Back
MyPillow Founder and CEO Mike Lindell won’t be getting his phone back, District Court Judge Eric C. Tostrud ruled on Thursday, citing, in part, the overturning of a restraining order previously granted to Trump in the Justice Department’s investigation of the former president’s document-hoarding in Mar-a-Lago.
Lindell had filed a complaint for a temporary restraining order and “return of property” after his phone was seized last week by the FBI in connection with an investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Lindell argued that lack of access to his phone harmed both his pillow business and his personal health, noting that his phone was linked to his hearing aid.
Tostrud, who was appointed by Trump, denied the bid just hours after it was filed. In doing so, he referenced a decision handed down on Wednesday by the 11th Circuit Court that reversed a restraining order granted to Trump that temporarily barred the DOJ from using documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in their investigation. Two of the three judges on the panel that slapped down Trump’s effort to stymie the investigation were appointed by Trump himself.
Tostrud cited the decision in noting that “when the owner of seized property seeks injunctive relief for the return of property while the case remains in the investigative stage (i.e. before criminal charges are brought), the district court must also balance the government’s interest in retaining the property against the owner’s right to get it back.”
Lindell has found himself at the center of various lawsuits regarding his efforts to prove the 2020 election was rigged against Donald Trump, despite there being no actual evidence this was the case. Lindell’s phone was seized by the FBI at a Hardee’s drive-thru in Minnesota. “The FBI came after me and took my phone, they surrounded me at a Hardee’s,” Lindell said. “They took my phone that I run my business, that I run everything with.”
The MyPillow founder claimed, both at the time of the seizure and in his motion, that the FBI lacked the proper warrant to seize his device and that his First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights were violated. The seizure reportedly pertained to Lindell’s relationship with Tina Peters, a Mesa County, Colorado, clerk who pleaded not guilty to charges of breaching voting machines in order to copy and share information with conspiracy theorists. Lindell has allegedly been bankrolling Peters’ legal defense to the tune of $200,000.
The DOJ has been investigating several schemes to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including a plot to provide an alternate set of electors for the Electoral College certification of Joe Biden’s win. Lindell has allegedly spent $25 million pushing claims that Trump won the election and remains a central player in the spread of conspiracies regarding election fraud.
Tostrud’s decision on Thursday means the DOJ can use Lindell’s phone in its investigation, and that the pillow mogul will have to contact the court to establish a hearing date.