Last week's deadly siege on the United States Capitol by pro-Trump extremists brought the consequences of outgoing President Donald Trump's months-long smear campaign against American election integrity into sharp focus.
Motivated by Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen by Democrats who coordinated widespread election fraud in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, the rioters smashed windows, ransacked offices, and threatened the lives of multiple lawmakers.
After at least five people were dead and multiple officials in his administration resigned, Trump finally acknowledged that "a new administration" would take power on Inauguration Day.
Since then, moving boxes have appeared at the White House, the walls are growing increasingly bare, and banners for the inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are going up.
But an appearance outside the Oval Office on Friday sparked speculation that Trump may still be considering another quixotic plan to stay in power.
Mike Lindell—the founder of the pillow company MyPillow and a vocal supporter of Trump—was seen leaving the White House with a packet of documents.
Though he declined to speak to reporters, one photographer was able to zoom in on his notes.
@MyPillowUSA CEO Michael Lindell shows off his notes before going into the West Wing at the White House on Friday,… https://t.co/zSFxpnRVbI— Jabin Botsford (@Jabin Botsford) 1610744426.0
The closeup only partially revealed the packet's contents, but some of the apparent phrases were jarring enough: "martial law if necessary" and "Make clear this is China/Iran." Names of pro-Trump public figures like conspiracy theorist lawyer Sidney Powell are mentioned as well.
The contents triggered speculation across the internet.
It looks like the My Pillow guy was urging the president to use the "Insurrection Act now as a result of the attack… https://t.co/RAOq0GPSaN— Matthew Gertz (@Matthew Gertz) 1610746776.0
A guy who makes pillows giving advice on martial law, elections, and homeland security. 20 January cannot come fast… https://t.co/OT0NJzUVrB— Mark Hertling (@Mark Hertling) 1610749623.0
Alarming. @VP should assure us that Mike Lindell and the president are not continuing to plot. This is why the i… https://t.co/ijeF8kuCmq— Tim Miller (@Tim Miller) 1610746752.0
Hi @BedBathBeyond. The MyPillow guy is literally plotting and advocating for violently overthrowing a democraticall… https://t.co/SYfBSpaQxX— Angelo Carusone (@Angelo Carusone) 1610751671.0
POTUS appears to be conferring on matters of national security and intelligence with the My Pillow guy. https://t.co/ESGSlLNzn1— Vivian Salama (@Vivian Salama) 1610747288.0
After the hubbub caused by Lindell's appearance at the White House, multiple journalists reached out to him for the full story.
Fortunately, the meeting was a lot less consequential than people feared if Lindell's account is to be believed.
My Pillow guy Mike Lindell confirms he met with Trump for 5 min, says he offered what he described as evidence of e… https://t.co/eljmk3ncIA— Jim Acosta (@Jim Acosta) 1610755572.0
Talked to Mike Lindell this evening. He said lawyer gave him notes to share with POTUS but repeatedly wouldn’t say… https://t.co/QukzKuylO1— Josh Dawsey (@Josh Dawsey) 1610758479.0
I got a bit more information about the Lindell meeting. It was a brief meeting, Trump sent him upstairs to the WH c… https://t.co/BQ5F5X5pqV— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman) 1610759510.0
Mike Lindell tells @dcexaminer he was just "the messenger" on document that said "move Kash Patel to acting CIA." H… https://t.co/J6hyWY0sGI— Katherine Doyle (@Katherine Doyle) 1610754227.0
Lindell denies that his documents said anything about invoking martial law.