Fact Check: Mike Lindell's 'Absolute Interference' Video Recycles Debunked Claims About The 2020 Election

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Mike Lindell's 'Absolute Interference'  Video Recycles Debunked Claims About The 2020 Election Discredited

Does Mike Lindell's "Absolute Interference" video, his third that purports to prove 2020 election fraud, contain only proven statements? No, that's not true: It contradicts itself and recycles claims that have been debunked before, relying on discredited and anonymous guests who make unsubstantiated and disproven allegations. The video's orienting claim is that foreign and domestic actors hacked the election through the manipulation of voting machines and flipped votes to change the outcome so that it appeared Donald Trump lost. But then the film introduces an expert who makes the opposite claim, saying fake votes were added into election tallies.

Lindell's two-hour video (archived here) was published on Rumble on April 20, 2021. It was titled: "Mike Lindell Presents: Absolute Interference The Sequel To Absolute Proof With New Evidence Foreign & Domestic Enemies Used Computers to Hack the 2020 Election." In it, the MyPillow CEO said:

I have proof -- 100% proof -- that our country was attacked by China, by communism coming in, this foreign interference to our elections, through the machines, Dominion, Smartmatic, ES&S, all of them.

Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Mike Lindell Presents: Absolute Interference The Sequel To Absolute Proof 2020 Election Fraud

Mike Lindell Presents: Absolute Interference 2 Hours - FULL Length Documentary The Sequel to Absolute Proof With New Evidence Foreign & Domestic Enemies Used Computer to Hack the 2020 Election. Execut

An intelligence report on foreign threats to the 2020 election, recently declassified by the director of National Intelligence (DNI), found "no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process." The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency characterized the 2020 vote as the most secure election in U.S. history, and William Barr, who was attorney general under Trump, has similarly said that investigators found no evidence of widespread fraud.

Dominion Voting Systems is suing Lindell for $1.3 billion, alleging that he made defamatory false statements: that Dominion's machines were used to steal votes. In a Zoom meeting with Lead Stories staff on February 18, 2021, Lindell said he welcomes Dominion's suit and is certain he'll prove Dominion participated in election fraud.

Lindell's latest video is the third in what appears to be a series about the 2020 election. His first video was called "Absolute Proof;" his second, "Scientific Proof." See our debunks of those videos here and here. "Absolute Interference" repeats many of the same claims made in those earlier videos, basing them on some of the same sources.

Lindell's first guest was retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser pardoned November 25, 2020, by Trump after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators. Around 10 minutes, 50 seconds, he claimed:

One of the things that we do know for certain is that the machines are connected to the internet.

And, later, around 14 minutes, 33 seconds, Flynn said:

The machines are not supposed to be connected to the internet. They're supposed to be free of the internet. Well, if it's connected to the internet that means that anybody, in any country, and I can name some of the countries -- so we know China; we know Iran; we know Spain had something to do with it; we know Serbia; we've had Italy come up; we've had Germany come up and of course Russia.

Lead Stories has debunked the claim that voting machines were connected to the internet (they weren't). We've also addressed false claims about the 2020 election and the specific countries mentioned by Flynn. For example, the U.S. Army did not seize vote-count servers in Germany; a purported foreign service officer in Rome did not work with Barack Obama, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and others to rig the 2020 election; and votes from the 2020 election were not stored on servers in Spain.

Flynn spoke about purported cases of fraud in New Hampshire and another state, which Lindell identified as Arizona. Flynn said about the former, at around 16 minutes, 23 seconds:

All of the machines started the day with 300 votes already in the algorithm -- or already in the machine counted for Joe Biden.

About the latter, around 18 minutes, he claimed:

We know of one particular state where we're looking at it, and we think that the machines were all set at 35,000.

Again, Lead Stories has covered both of those allegations previously and found them to be lacking credible evidence. Flynn was apparently referring to the situation in Windham, New Hampshire, where election results changed markedly in a hand recount. It's unclear why. The original report, the recount or both may have been made in error. The mere fact of a discrepancy is not evidence of fraud, which requires intent to deceive. In Arizona, there's no evidence to support the statement that 35,000 votes were added to every Democratic candidate. In some legislative races, Democratic candidates received fewer than 35,000 votes total, which makes the claim illogical as well as impossible.

Lindell's next guest was Douglas Frank, a Ph.D. analytical chemist from Cincinnati, who implausibly claimed that lists of names from the 2010 census were used to create phantom voters in a pattern matching demographic patterns of the population while inflating Biden's tallies. Lead Stories sent him a request for the exact data and formulas he used but we received no reply.

At 44 minutes, 18 seconds, Frank again raises claims he made in the prior Lindell video, "Scientific Proof":

You can't have a million people sitting at computers controlling this, so you have to have some algorithm, some set of steps that computers can run automatically to control it.

The claim made by Frank is that he found two strange patterns in state voter registration and ballot data that, according to him, must be artificial and which prove some sort of algorithm was used to fudge the numbers.

He has explained his theory in a YouTube video (archived here), from which we have taken several of his slides because they are easier to screenshot than the ones used in "Absolute Interference."

Based on registration and turnout numbers, he claims to be able to "predict" the number of ballots cast and show how fake votes were added. That is like saying you can "predict" someone's age using just their birth year. It's a simple calculation that will be mostly right (but not exactly). And it is not even a prediction since you can only know the turnout numbers after the vote counting is completed.

Frank1.jpg

Turnout is the number of voters who actually showed up to vote. You would expect that number to be very, very close to the number of ballots that were cast in a race (there will almost always be a few invalid or unreadable ballots or ballots where no candidate for a particular race was selected).

And indeed, that is exactly what Frank finds (he appears to call the turnout the "Registration Key" here):

Frank2.jpg

To Frank, that looks like a very suspicious pattern that must be the result of an algorithm adding votes for Biden. In reality, it is exactly what you would expect to find: The number of ballots is very close to the number of voters who showed up. What would be surprising is if the number of ballots was much higher or lower than the number of voters. Now *that* would be evidence or at least a strong indication that somebody fudged the numbers or made a grave calculation error somewhere.

Frank also claims to have looked at the "state voter database" to get information on how many voters of every age showed up to vote. Though he provides no exact methodology of where he extracted data with that level of detail and doesn't share his data for download and re-analysis, for the sake of argument we'll assume his data are correct.

Frank3.jpg

Using that data, he finds that the turnout rate is not the same for every age group and that there seems to be a pattern in the data, which he calls a "Registration Key," that you can use to make the voter registration line roughly match with the turnout line for each age:

Frank4.jpg

Frank claims this is the second suspicious pattern that proves something nefarious is going on and that this pattern is somehow "assigned" to states by hackers deploying a secret algorithm.

But that curve is completely in line with what we know about how different age groups vote. Census data confirms older people have been voting in higher proportions than younger voters for years.

Young voters who register for the first time are more likely to show up (and there was an increased youth turnout in 2020). Working-age voters are often registered, but not all of them may take time off from work or remember to vote. Boomers who keep their registration current are generally also more likely to vote, and finally there is a group of very old voters who are still registered but don't show up to vote because they are dead.

Again, this is a pattern you would expect to find. The suspicious thing would be if the line was flat or if it kept going up after the boomer generation (that would mean the dead were voting).

Of course, not every state has the exact same demographics and circumstances: In some states people live closer to polling places, it might be easier or harder to vote absentee, there might be same-day registration available or people might just be more motivated to vote for some reason (swing states, local races ...). So, you would expect the pattern to be slightly different in each state but with roughly the same shape.

And that is indeed exactly what Frank found, but to his chemist's eye, it looks suspiciously consistent:

Frank5.jpg

Frank also makes a big deal out of the fact that in some places there appear to be more voter registrations than eligible voters, but he bases that declaration on census data he consulted and claims this is a "reservoir" from which fake votes can be created.

However, (as one of Frank's first slides indicates) he is using population numbers from July 2019 that are an estimate, not the result of the decennial headcount. Most likely he used info from the American Community Survey program, which estimates population based on a survey sent to a sample of the population. That is not an exact count of how many people live in each county/state. As the Census Bureau notes in this document, the one-year estimates, like any sample-based survey, has margins of error. You would expect it to be out of line with voter registration data in terms of exact counts but roughly accurate as to the relative size of various age groups. Which, again, is exactly what the data in Frank's slides shows.

Frank6.jpg

(Source: census.gov ACS information guide, page 12)

In summary, Frank is suspicious of the standard line graph of the age breakdown of the U.S. population and then uses rough estimates to declare there are more voters than residents in some places.

He concludes an algorithm was used to add votes while the voting and counting was still going, something multiple independent state, federal and private experts on election technology say is impossible. And he proposes that this algorithm somehow conjured data that was not yet available at the time (the turnout numbers and same-day registrations) and that somehow made the age breakdown look exactly as you would expect it to look under normal circumstances.

He also offers no plausible explanation about how this supposed algorithm -- which could only work on data in internet-connected voting systems -- was able to change the ink on paper ballots and create and mark extra paper ballots. In states like Georgia and Wisconsin, there were hand recounts of paper ballots that confirmed the results announced at the conclusion of the first vote tally.

Summing up much of Frank's comments, Lindell jumped in to repeat the foreign interference claim that the U.S. intelligence community's hundreds of thousands of agents and analysts have debunked, saying, at 49 minutes, 12 seconds:

It didn't matter who you voted for, what you did. They did it for you, this attack on our country by foreign interference, foreign actors coming in with domestic actors, too.

At 50 minutes, 30 seconds, the CEO said:

The actual vote totals were almost 80 million for Donald Trump and for Biden it was a little over 66 million.

There's no evidence that's true. In addition to winning the Electoral College vote, which Congress certified, Biden won the popular vote, receiving 81,284,666 votes to Trump's 74,224,319, according to the certified results provided by election offices from Republican and Democratic states.

At 1 hour, 20 minutes, Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney re-introduces his debunked claim that the 2020 election was targeted in a cyberattack, saying "We had the most massive cyberwarfare attack in history on our electoral system. There's never been anything of that magnitude." Both the Biden administration's director of National Intelligence and the Trump administration's attorney general, Bill Barr, said those claims were investigated by federal agents and found to be false.

McInerney claimed the National Security Agency, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies "said they never saw anything because they didn't know where to look." In late November of 2020, McInerney falsely claimed servers in Europe were used by voting technology companies to flip votes from Trump to Biden. But in Lindell's April 2021 video, McInerney switched continents, saying China is responsible for the election hacking.

At 1 hour, 10 minutes, Lindell introduces "Confidential Informant #3," who claims there were vote totals flipping that they can prove was a "well-orchestrated vote theft." The person claims, without providing concrete evidence or independent and corroborating proof, that they obtained evidence from a poll manager who contacted them on January 3, 2021, and provided them with a flip phone that proved there was hacking into U.S. voting machines by a Chinese company.

"We have verified connection to the polling pads with China by this TCL flip phone." the purported informant says. "... We have transmissions that go back to this Chinese state-owned company TCL. We have the absolute proof of their incursion. Their legal incursion into 150 election servers in 14 different states, including multiple secretary of state offices."

Lindell says, "What you're saying John, this shows more evidence of a state-owned company right out of China attacking us directly through the secretaries of state, their computers, the machines, using the cell phones that were owned by China that were internet devices."

There is no evidence provided that authenticates the phone was TCL-controlled. The voting machines were not connected to the internet, as Lead Stories reported in January. Voting machine manufacturers, multiple state election officers and independent election technology experts have dismissed this claim, saying the lack of internet access is the entire point of voting machine cybersecurity. The man Lindell interviews provides no proof that voting machines were hacked other than a claim that he saw the proof, which he does not provide for Lindell's video.

At 1 minute, 36 seconds, Lindell introduces another "cybersecurity expert" who is blurred out, with his voice disguised.

The anonymous "cybersecurity expert" Lindell brings out is supposed to validate earlier claims made in "Absolute Proof" about a file that supposedly shows a list of timestamped cyberattacks coming from China targeting American voting infrastructure to steal votes from President Trump.

He is introduced as "one of the best cybersecurity and digital forensics experts ever" but according to Lindell he has to stay anonymous because he is going to be used as an expert witness in a future case before the Supreme Court. It is claimed the anonymous man has "amazing credentials" because he is a certified "GIAC Cloud Penetration Tester (GCPN)" which Lindell describes as "the highest standard in cybersecurity." However, GIAC itself says the exam for this certification has only the following requirements:

1 proctored exam
75 questions
Time limit of 2 hours
Minimum Passing Score of 70%

GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) is a company whose website claims its certifications are "The Highest Standard in Cyber Security Certifications." It describes its mission on its "about page" as:

A certification is proof an individual meets a minimum standard. The mission of GIAC is to provide assurance to employers their people and prospective hires can actually do the job. To accomplish this mission, GIAC goes beyond theory and terminology and tests the pragmatics of Audit, Security, Operations, Management and Software Security tasks.

In other words, it is a company that offers professional certifications to people who pass an exam. We just have to take Lindell or the expert at their word here because without knowing the identity of the expert it is impossible to verify if he actually passed this exam.

The expert then proves his expertise by showing a picture of what looks like a hex dump of an unknown file, claiming it is the raw, encrypted form of the data. A hex dump is nothing special: It is simply the output of a little program that converts binary files to something (almost) humanly readable, is used mainly for debugging and data recovery in damaged files. You can read more about how that works here. Without being able to look closely at the file or the hex dump itself it is impossible to make any meaningful statements about what is shown on the screen here, but it certainly looks impressive.

expert3.jpg

In our debunk of "Absolute Proof" we showed that the purported data file of cyberattacks presented by Mary Fanning in that video was unsourced (it was not explained where it came from or how it was obtained). "Absolute Interference" also skips over that part, which is quite important to be able to validate the data.

The claim here is that somebody was somehow able to tap global internet traffic from China to the U.S. and "read" the messages in real time and notice they were attacks stealing votes. That is probably something only a major intelligence operation could theoretically do provided they also had the ability to easily decrypt messages in real time that are encrypted using the most modern encryption standards. This would be major news in the cybersecurity world. Lindell doesn't even seem to think it is worth mentioning where the file came from. He appears to find it normal that someone got this file from somewhere and passed it on to the anonymous "expert."

Lindell has been boosting similar data as far back as January 16, 2021, when he tweeted out a copy of an article on a website named The American Report, which Lead Stories also exposed as fraudulent. It had similar lists of IP addresses and timestamps and similar animations, but it claimed the attacks came from all over the world and not just from China.

No full version of the file shown in "Absolute Proof" was made available by Lindell for close inspection, but based on screenshots we could tell the data about the vote counts was obviously a forgery because it showed Trump supposedly losing more votes in certain places than were actually cast there in total:

It shows Trump down 17,044 votes in Adams County, WI or down 23,909 in Clark County, WI, places where only 11,818 and 14,898 ballots were cast in total, respectively.

The screen shown in "Absolute Interference" appears to be slightly different from the one in Lindell's previous film, with more columns added showing the supposed latitude and longitude and even exact addresses associated with the IP addresses making or receiving what are claimed to be attacks. But it has the same false information about Trump votes being removed in Clark County:

expert1.jpg

Later in the video it is claimed these are not actually votes being removed but votes being switched, which would double the impact:

expert2.jpg

That makes the Clark County number even more illogical. How do you "switch" 23,909 votes from Trump to Biden in a county where only 14,898 ballots were cast and still end up with 4,524 Biden votes and 10,002 Trump votes (according to the official results)?

The only thing the "cybersecurity expert" appears to have validated is that the IP addresses mentioned in a part of the "Absolute Proof" file actually did belong to Chinese companies and American counties. This is something any IT-savvy person can do. In fact we did it ourselves when we looked into the earlier forgery on The American Report:

Lead Stories checked some of the IP addresses in the "target" column and they do indeed all seem to belong to various county websites, so whoever created this list did their homework on that part.

For example, one could go here https://whatismyipaddress.com/hostname-ip and enter "mypillow.com" to find out the IP address of that site (172.67.36.98) and then go here to look up the likely location of the server or here to look up registration data. This has about as much to do with hacking or advanced cybersecurity as looking up a telephone number in the phonebook.

To stay with the telephone analogy: The data file here is the equivalent of a timestamped list of phone conversations between American and Chinese telephone numbers, complete with a transcript of what was said. Looking up the phone numbers in the phonebook and seeing they are indeed American and Chinese does not prove the list is real or that the phone conversations took place. It just means that the person who created the list could also have used the phonebook.

Before you could trust such a list you would at least want to know how it was created: Who put in the phone taps? Are there actual recordings? How did the person who did the tapping get access to all these phone lines? Do they understand Chinese? Would you trust the word of an "anonymous phone tapping expert" with an online certificate of Chinese language understanding?

And would you trust such a list if it showed you there was a conversation between Chairman Mao and President Abraham Lincoln? Or would you consider that proof that the list was false since you know from other sources that would be impossible.

This is the situation we find ourselves in with the Clark County data.

It is also interesting to note that the experts Lindell brings out seem to have contradictory theories on what happened. Douglas Frank, the Cincinnati chemist-turned-election-expert, seems to suggest fake votes were "added" by an algorithm. The anonymous cyberexpert says real votes were "switched" by China through hacking. Michael Flynn and Thomas McInerney have been connected to theories it was a CIA supercomputer running a secret program (Hammer & Scorecard) that somehow had something to do with servers in Germany. The American Report article retweeted by Lindell claimed the hacks were coming from all over the world.

None of them explain how any of this could change the ink on the paper ballots that were recounted three times in Georgia.

This story will be updated as Lead Stories staff continues to report out the video.

Updates:

  • 2021-04-21T06:41:07Z 2021-04-21T06:41:07Z
    Updated to add analysis of Douglas Frank's algorithm claims and to add a programmer's assessment of the claims made by the purported cyberexperts. Also added: a compilation of the debunked claims made in the second half of the film.

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