In public, pillow magnate and staunch Donald Trump ally Mike Lindell has continued—long after President Joe Biden’s inauguration—to hurl wild, unfounded allegations about the 2020 election and has even gone as far as to say that Trump could be reinstalled in the White House later this year.
But behind the scenes, Lindell has assembled a legal team front-loaded with First Amendment heavyweights who aren’t so much looking to defend the merits of their client’s bizarre claims as his constitutional right to say them free from the consequence of devastating financial ruin.
The Lindell legal team is also preparing to argue that the false claims against the voting-tech company Dominion are akin to pillorying the U.S. government, and therefore come with the same speech protections.
According to court documents filed late last week, Lindell’s company, MyPillow, has hired veteran First Amendment attorney Nathan Lewin to represent the company as its Trump-aligned founder faces a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over a series of baseless allegations about the company and the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Lewin joins his friend and fellow legal heavyweight, celebrity lawyer and Trump impeachment-defense veteran Alan Dershowitz, who, while not an attorney of record in the case, recently announced that he is informally advising Lindell and his legal team on the defense. Taken together, the moves show how Lindell, whose pro-Trump claims have pushed him to the political fringes and made him a lightning rod, has nonetheless attracted the support of a high-powered legal team of mainstream attorneys willing to fight his case on constitutional grounds.
“I’ve been on conference calls repeatedly with [Lindell’s] legal team, sometimes Lindell is on, sometimes he’s not,” Dershowitz said in a phone interview last week. “My role is to come up with ideas as they pertain to the First Amendment. I give them cases, and I suggest First Amendment theories—my role is limited to advising on the First Amendment issues at hand.”
He added that he has been advising Team Lindell not only on a motion to dismiss the Dominion lawsuit but also on the potential litigation that Lindell has for weeks said that he and his attorneys are working on filing soon against Dominion and voting tech company Smartmatic.
Dershowitz said he personally recommended Lewin to Team Lindell, and gave a brief preview of what could likely come from the Lindell side as litigation progresses.
“Our position is that Dominion is the government, for purposes of the First Amendment,” he said. “The government delegated to them the most important governmental function, mainly counting votes in a presidential election. And they are therefore subject to criticism in the exact same ways that the government would be subject to criticism in that situation. And criticism of how the government conducted a presidential election is the highest bar protecting the First Amendment right to criticize such action.”
On Monday, Lindell’s company, MyPillow, filed its own lawsuit against Dominion in Minnesota bearing some of the same arguments Dershowitz says it will use in its defense against Dominion’s defamation claims. The suit, filed by attorney Andrew Parker, claims that Dominion is a governmental actor by virtue of its contracting with state and local agencies to provide voting systems and that Dominion’s legal crusade violated MyPillow’s First and Fourteenth amendment rights as well as “tortious interference with prospective business.”
Parker’s complaint argues that “Dominion is using today’s cancel culture to eliminate dissent and to cover up the election issues that compromised the 2020 result.” As evidence of the harm he says the company has suffered, Parker claims that “MyPillow employees have been subjected to ridicule in their personal lives, and death threats necessitating protection from local law enforcement” and that “employees are subjected to daily hateful and barbaric calls, emails, and comments on the company’s social media platforms.”
For years, Dershowitz and Lewin have both been registered as Democrats.
Lewin, 85, has a storied legal career that spans decades and included a dozen appearances arguing cases before the Supreme Court and in Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department prosecuting Jimmy Hoffa. After leaving government work, Lewin went on to represent a host of notable clients, including Jodie Foster after John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, former Attorney General Edwin Meese during the Iran-Contra scandal, President Richard Nixon, and John Lennon in an appeal of his immigration status after the Nixon administration tried to have him deported from the U.S.
In an email to The Daily Beast on Sunday afternoon, Lewin declined to comment, writing that he would “have nothing to say beyond what I may file in court.”
In the years since, Lewin established a reputation as a go-to attorney on First Amendment cases involving the free exercise of religion and the Establishment Clause. Lewin has represented Orthodox Jewish organizations in cases involving labeling requirements on kosher food, co-educational housing requirements for Orthodox students at Yale, the public display of a Menorah, and Jews in the armed forces seeking religious accommodation to wear beards.
Lewin also represented the America Israel Public Affairs Committee in the fallout from the 2005 espionage cases against former lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman after Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin was caught passing classified information about Iran to the two men. Franklin pleaded guilty to leaking classified information. Prosecutors tried to charge Rosen and Weissman under the Espionage Act for passing the information along to the Israeli government but ultimately dropped the charges.
Lindell’s legal strategy also marks a contrast with his fellow Dominion critic Sidney Powell, who also is facing a $1.3 billion suit from the voting technology company. Powell’s legal team has largely drawn attorneys from within the ranks of those who sought to overturn the election in court.
Powell is represented by Howard Kleinhendler, a Republican attorney who, alongside Lin Wood, filed some of the so-called “Kraken” cases bearing many of the same allegations that landed Powell in Dominion’s crosshairs. She’s also represented by Lawrence Joseph, an attorney who helped draft the Supreme Court brief that Texas filed in a failed bid to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral victory in a handful of battleground states.
And during that months-long anti-democratic blitz spearheaded by then-President Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans—culminating in the bloody Jan. 6. MAGA riot in Washington, D.C.—Lindell emerged as a key player both in public and behind the scenes. The pillow magnate and Trump friend was a big financial backer of several legal efforts and rallies that attempted to subvert the certified outcome of a Biden win and a decisive Trump loss. During the final days of Trump’s term in office, Lindell visited the then-president in the Oval Office to brief him on documents filled with groundless conspiracy theories about how China and other foreign nations were at the center of a convoluted plot to swing the 2020 election to the Democratic presidential nominee.
“I want to take this all the way to the Supreme Court,” Lindell has repeatedly insisted since Trump left office. “I’m not stopping.”