It’s Thanksgiving, and with respect to any relatives who may have colorful takes about vaccine mandates, critical race theory, and the Rittenhouse verdict, the craziest uncle of 2021 is, without a doubt, Mike Lindell.
The pillow baron has for a year now been claiming vociferously that the 2020 election was rigged, that he can prove it, and that it won’t be long before everyone realizes the truth and Donald Trump is reinstated as president of the United States. Lindell most recently trumpeted Thanksgiving as the date Trump will be back in office. He has promoted a 96-hour holiday weekend livestream in which he will unpack “the historic U.S. Supreme Court complaint on the 2020 election” he says will reinstall Trump in the White House. (The livestream got off to a rocky start.)
Lindell is a clown and easy to mock. So is the idea that there is any sort of legal pathway for Trump, who lost to President Biden by a considerable margin, to be reinstated as president. But just because something is easy to mock doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously (see: the 45th president himself).
The idea that Trump will return to office has been spreading throughout the MAGA movement since January. A Politico/Morning Consult poll published in June found that 29 percent of Republicans believe this is actually going to happen by the end of the year. A YouGov poll conducted in early November found that 28 percent of Republicans believed it was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” Trump would be back in office by the end of the year.
In other words, millions and millions and millions of people have, like Lindell, lost touch with reality to a truly terrifying degree. In other words, millions and millions and millions of people have, like Lindell, lost touch with reality to a truly terrifying degree. Many of them are determined to stay out in orbit, perpetually setting and resetting dates Trump will definitely, this time, return to power. It can be a little hard to track all of these deadlines, so here’s a guide to one of the year’s most unhinged conspiracy theory rabbit holes, which doesn’t appear to have a bottom.
Jan. 20: QAnon is based on the belief that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, and that Trump in his capacity as president was going bring all of these people to justice. The fact that he got trounced by Biden last November accelerated the timeline for this to happen, and once the election results were certified on Jan. 6, conspiracy theorists decided he was going to do it on Biden’s inauguration day, while at the same time revealing a secret plan to remain in office. This did not happen. QAnon adherents were confused, but not deterred. In fact, they were more not deterred than anyone realized possible.
March 4: Yeah, Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20. So what? The real Inauguration Day is March 4, conspiracy theorists claimed, and it was on March 4, 2021 that Trump would be sworn in for his second term.
The theory hinged on the idea that in 1871 Congress turned the government into a corporation, and that every president who has held office since is illegitimate. March 4 served as Inauguration Day prior to 1933, when the 20th Amendment was passed, and it would be on this day that Trump would be inaugurated as the 19th president, or the first legitimate successor to Ulysses S. Grant. (Don’t think too hard about the logic here. It’s not supposed to make sense.)
The theory became widespread enough that hashtags like #march4th and #19thpresident started spreading across social media. The Capitol Police even warned of a “possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group” on the date, leading the House of Representatives to cancel plans for a session.
March 20: OK, nothing happening on March 4. What about March 20? It’s basically the same thing, right? I mean, when you think about it, all that’s differentiating the two dates are things like time and math, both of which are being foisted on us by liberal scientists. Can we just say he’ll come back on the 20th, instead?
There were corners of QAnon that did indeed say this, citing the Presidential Enhancement Act. Signed into law in 2020, the act is designed to smooth the transition of power by, in part, providing certain support to the president-elect’s team for 60 days after the inauguration. Conspiracy theorists misinterpreted this to mean that Trump retained control of the freaking military for 60 days after inauguration, and that the official transfer of power would not take place until March 20.
Met Ken, who informed me that Trump is still in command of the military, and Trump will be inaugurated again on March 20. (Biden is acting as president as a ruse while the Pope and others are rounded up.) pic.twitter.com/uau56ZqwSx
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) February 28, 2021
Aug. 13: All right, March was a bad month for conspiracy theorists. It was time to take a breather and really figure out when Trump was going to return to power. Lindell announced on March 29 that it was happening in August, citing all of the evidence of election fraud he was going to show the Supreme Court.
Mike Lindell declares that as a result of voter fraud lawsuit he’ll soon be filing, “Donald Trump will be back in office in August.” pic.twitter.com/5Ewtd9SZ1O
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 29, 2021
It wasn’t just Lindell, either. Trump himself had been telling people he expected to be back in the White House by August, as Maggie Haberman of The New York Times reported in June.
In July, Lindell locked down a specific date. “By the morning of Aug. 13 it’ll be the talk of the world, going, ‘Hurry up! Let’s get this election pulled down. Let’s right the right. Let’s get these communists out, you know, that have taken over,’” he told right-wing conspiracy theorist Bannon Howse.
Nov. 25: Nothing happened in August, either, but that’s OK. Lindell soon thereafter pegged Thanksgiving as the new date Trump would return to office based on his plan to deliver his “historic” election fraud complaint, which would be signed by state attorneys general, to the Supreme Court earlier this week. “I talked to all the lawyers today,” he said in September. “One hundred percent we are getting this before the Supreme Court before Thanksgiving. That is locked in stone, everybody.”
This did not happen.
Lindell explained why to Steve Bannon, noting that the attorneys general he claims to have spoken to “have so much going on right now that last Friday they gave them until today to fight these mandates where kids had to take the vaccine.” …OK. There are also, of course, the attorneys general who are refusing to sign onto the suit, whom Lindell says simply “don’t want to help save our country.”
“You know a lot of things are happening out there that are very suspicious,” he added.
Lindell also blamed Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who he said on his livestream Monday pressured attorneys general not to sign the complaint. “How dare the RNC try and stop this case from getting to the Supreme Court,” he ranted. “Shame on you, RNC! You are worse than Fox now! You can’t tell me why Ronna McDaniel, the head of the RNC, made a statement saying Biden won three days before this Supreme Court complaint was supposed to go to the Supreme Court.”
Lindell even released the complaint that all of these traitors prevented him from filing in time for Turkey Day. It’s 82-pages long, chock full of disproven conspiracy theories, and lists the plaintiff as “State of [Insert Your State Here].” Lindell has said the complaint is so rock solid that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of [Insert Your State Here] unanimously, and that this will somehow result in Trump’s return to office.
It’s no longer going to happen by Thanksgiving, but it surely won’t take Lindell long to come up with another date to tell supporters to expect Trump to return to office. Go ahead and tune into his livestream and find out. He may even offer a promo code for a Black Friday pillow deal.