During Donald Trump's appearance in Mankato on Monday, the president shouted out to a few prominent local Republicans in attendance.
Among them was MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a longtime Trump booster whose loyalty got him promoted to state campaign chair in Trump's reelection bid. We recently included Lindell in our Hall of Shame of worst Minnesotans.
Trump, meanwhile, loves the guy.
"His pillow," Trump said. "I use it. When I sleep well, I’m using his pillow."
"Mike, thank you. And he’s the chairman of our campaign. If I don’t win Minnesota with you as the chairman of our campaign, I would say that would be very bad for me because this guy can do anything. Thank you, Mike. It’s an honor, and we appreciate it very much. Thank you. You do a great job. Thank you. And it’s all made in Minnesota, right? All made in Minnesota. Thank you very much."
Good thing Trump buttered up Lindell like that. All the better to grill him.
On Tuesday, the pillow person appeared on CNN for an interview with Anderson Cooper, who had a series of pointed questions about Lindell's new business venture. The Minnesota entrepreneur has thrown his support behind oleandrin, a plant extract that people want to see approved as a treatment for COVID-19. Namely: people who have a financial stake in it.
According to a report from Axios, Lindell touted the drug's usage during a visit to the White House back in July, and even arranged a meeting between the president, Ben Carson, and Andrew Whitney, whose Phoenix Biotechnology is trying to rush oleandrin to market with FDA approval.
Also on the board at Phoenix Biotechnology?
This whole thing is oozing with conflict of interest -- does coronavirus spread via ooze? -- but that's never been a problem for anyone in the First Family.
As Lindell told both Axios and Cooper, he first became aware of Whitney and his "cure" for coronavirus from an apparent cold call on Easter. (You'd think one miracle at a time, right?) This was after Lindell's initial response to coronavirus was to... pray. Apparently, he was the only one wise enough to pray for an investment opportunity.
Despite a lack of peer reviewed research indicating oleandrin curbs the virus's effect, let alone prevents it, Lindell now says he and "family and friends" are already taking the supplement, which he calls "the most amazing miracle thing I've seen in my life." That's the language of a salesman, not a scientist, a distinction Cooper made from the get go in his interview.
"You don't have a medical background, you're not a scientist, yet you're claiming this substance, which has not been studied in any meaningful way, can cure COVID. And you have a financial stake in the company. You would profit from it if this is being sold widely. Morally, is that right?"
Somehow, that's about as gentle as Cooper got. After Cooper refuted Lindell's claims about a study of "a thousand people," the salesman tried a second, more anecdotal approach.
"I've been taking it since April, and I've got over a hundred of my friends and family -- this thing works. It's the miracle of all time."
(On second thought, fuck Easter.)
After more back-and-forth, Lindell says Cooper's only asking hard questions because "the media is trying to take away this amazing cure for everybody."
An increasingly passionate Lindell says he joined the Phoenix Biotechnology board last week, and only because "I help people, that's my passion" and can help the company scale-up production... of... its virus drug? Sure. Look, you can't spell pillow without "pill."
Stick around for Cooper's cutting assessment of Lindell at the very end, and for Mike's promise to pray for him.
At the end of the website biography for its newest board mustache, Phoenix Biotechnology gives his favorite Bible verse as Proverbs 3: 5-6, which reads: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
Amen to that. Lean not on your own understanding. And steer well the fuck clear of Mike Lindell's.