‘Our president gave us so much hope’: MyPillow CEO goes off script at coronavirus briefing

By Caitlin Oprysko

President Donald Trump kicked off Monday’s press briefing on the coronavirus much like every other, by running through daily updates about the deadly virus and the White House efforts to eradicate it.

But unlike in typical briefings throughout the pandemic, in which various members of the administration discuss what their agencies are doing to combat the virus or help blunt its economic toll, Trump yielded the stage first to a handful of business leaders — one of them a staunch supporter who went off script in a moment of effusive praise for the president.

The Trump administration has involved business leaders in nearly every aspect of its response to the pandemic, leaning heavily on private-public partnerships to respond to the virus, which has rapidly spread and touched nearly every industry in the country, so it wasn‘t their presence alone that was unusual.

Among those he introduced Monday were the “great leader” of Honeywell, as well as the CEOs of Jockey, Procter & Gamble and United Technologies, all of whom laid out how their companies were fulfilling what Trump described as “their patriotic duty” to fight the virus.

But only one of the executives got a particularly glowing introduction from the president.

“A friend of mine, Mike Lindell of MyPillow, boy, do you sell those pillows,” Trump said of Lindell, who sat in the front row of chairs set up in the White House Rose Garden. “It’s unbelievable what you do.”

When the president beckoned the executives to the lectern to say a few words about their efforts, up first was Lindell — a major Republican donor, the Trump campaign’s chairman for Minnesota and someone who has called Trump the “greatest president” in American history and someone who was “chosen by God.” But his remarks went beyond the polite accolades and brief summary of steps his company is taking to assist other corporations in preparing to weather future pandemics.

After explaining that MyPillow was dedicating three-fourths of its manufacturing capabilities to produce cotton face masks for health care providers and studying how to help companies rebound from the economic standstill brought about by the pandemic, Lindell asked whether it would be OK to read something he’d written “off the cuff.”

“God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on,” Lindell began, referencing the day Trump was elected president. “Taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God.”

Lindell then offered advice to families stuck at home because of various social-distancing guidelines: “I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles and spend time with our families.”

“Our president gave us so much hope. Where just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up, it was amazing,” he continued, as Trump stood behind him expressionless. “With our great president, vice president and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.”

Trump, who has privately been nudging Lindell to run for governor of Minnesota in 2022, appeared taken aback by the gesture.

“I did not know he was going to do that, but he is a friend of mine, and I do appreciate it,” the president said, before waving up the next executive, Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk, to talk about his company’s manufacture of N95 face masks.