- Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell and Mike Flynn pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories at an event advertised as a celebration of an anti-China movement.
- The event was backed by shadowy nonprofit groups that are linked to Guo Wengui, a wealthy businessman who is effectively exiled from China.
- "It's like on the battlefield because this is warfare," Flynn said at the 12-hour June event at the top of One World Trade Center. "This is warfare that we are in."
It was supposed to be a celebration for a movement that opposes the Chinese Communist Party.
Instead, the swanky private party, held in June at the top of One World Trade Center, served as a platform for several of former President Donald Trump's allies, including former advisor Steve Bannon and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, to spew anti-government rhetoric and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
The invitation-only event was hosted by a couple of shadowy nonprofits, the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society. They are linked to Guo Wengui, a wealthy exiled businessman from China who is an ardent opponent of that nation's ruling Communist Party.
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CNBC obtained a copy of the invitation, which lists Guo, Bannon and the two new chairs of the nonprofit organizations as speakers for the event. You can view the invitation here.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn, both known for pushing the false theory that claims the election was stolen from Trump, also spoke at the June 3 gathering.
"It's like on the battlefield because this is warfare," Flynn said at the event, which included lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. "This is warfare that we are in."
It was streamed on YouTube, which has 30,000 views so far. Neither the YouTube video nor the invitation to the event have been reported on.
Read some of the remarks made at the event:
A person familiar with the event said there could have been up to 200 people in attendance at Aspire, a catering hall located on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center.
A sales manager at Aspire would not confirm details of the Guo-supported event, although the manager said a 12-hour, 200-guest event with lunch and dinner stations could cost nearly $185,000.
The Rule of Law Society and the Rule of Law Foundation describe themselves as a resource for whistleblowers who want to safely speak out against the Chinese government. Guo fled China in 2014 in anticipation of corruption charges. After he blasted China's leadership, warrants were reportedly issued for his arrest on charges that included corruption and bribery.
Press representatives for the Guo-linked foundations, Bannon, Flynn and Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment.
A misinformation offensive
The conspiracy theories and speakers heard at the event fit a pattern for the Guo-backed organizations. The nonprofits are cited in a report by Graphika, which describes a "network [that] acts as a prolific producer and amplifier of mis- and disinformation, including claims of voter fraud in the U.S., false information about Covid-19, and QAnon narratives."
Bannon left his role as chair of the Rule of Law Society last summer. His departure from the board came around the time he was arrested on Guo's yacht for allegedly defrauding donors through his "We Build the Wall" fundraising campaign. Bannon pleaded not guilty at the time and was later pardoned by Trump.
The invitation to the June event lists Dinggang Wang, a Guo associate and anti-Chinese government YouTube star, as chair of the Rule of Law Society. Wang, according to a report by NBC News, appears to have previously helped spread Covid misinformation and conspiracy theories about President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, during the election.
The invitation lists among its topics the "Chinese Communist Party Virus" and "CCP's existential threat to the US and the world." But there is no clear indication that people would discuss the 2020 election. Biden defeated Trump, who has continued to lie about how it was stolen from him.
The event was described as a commemoration of a Guo-linked movement known as the New Federal State of China.
"It is with great pleasure and joy that we invite you to join us in New York City for the first anniversary of The New Federal State of China (NFSC)," the invitation read.
At the event, Bannon and Lindell contended that China interfered in the election.
A government report, declassified in March by the director of national intelligence, said there were "no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 U.S. elections, including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation or reporting results."
The report also noted that intelligence agencies found that China "did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the U.S. presidential election." The report does note that intelligence analysts also assessed that "China did take some steps to try to undermine former President Trump's reelection."
Flynn at the Guo-backed party falsely claimed that Trump won the election over Biden. Giuliani took aim at Hunter Biden and the Biden family as a whole, among other conspiracies.
The election claims made by Trump, Bannon, Lindell, Flynn, Giuliani and other allies of the former president have been debunked across the board, including by Republicans and one-time members of the Trump administration.
Then-Attorney General Bill Barr told The Associated Press shortly after Biden was projected to be the winner of the 2020 election that the FBI found no signs of widespread voter fraud.
Trump's campaign still went on to spend millions to fight a losing battle against the election results. As Congress was signing off on the election results Jan. 6, Trump encouraged his supporters to march on Capitol Hill. The ensuing riot and invasion of Congress led to several deaths and hundreds of federal prosecutions.
Here are some of the notable things said by the leading pro-Trump voices at the One World Trade Center event.
"The quality of people that you have brought here today. You are going to have Gen. Mike Flynn. You are going to have Mike Lindell," Bannon said. "He's [Lindell] suing Dominion because of the Chinese Communist Party. He's going to show in court that the Chinese Communist Party actually did cyberattacks on our Nov. 3 election," Bannon noted.
Moments before Lindell spoke at the event, Bannon said that Lindell's lawsuits against voting machine companies Dominion and Smartmatic will prove that China interfered in the 2020 election to defeat Trump. Dominion is also suing Lindell.
"Here's what's important. He has a lawsuit that he's going to take to the Supreme Court that's going to show the Chinese Communist Party interfered in the 2020 election to defeat Donald J. Trump," Bannon said of Lindell.
Lindell's claims have been debunked.
Before Lindell took the stage, Flynn, whom Trump forced out barely a month into his administration, gave his take on the election and suggested that people are planning further fights against the federal government.
"I'm fed up with our government. I'm fed up with the corruption that we've experienced and that has been exposed," Flynn told the crowd. "We have hundreds of millions of people in this country that they see it for what it is. They see the authenticity of a Donald Trump. They know President Trump won this last election. There's no doubt about it."
He added: "Where are we as America today? Where are we? And I will tell you. There are hundreds of millions of people around this country that are not about to give this country up. There are patriots everywhere. And I mean 10's, 20 million people."
Trump pardoned Flynn in November, two years after the retired lieutenant general pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Lindell, the pillow kingpin who became a leading voice on the extreme right, showed a clip from his new film titled "Absolutely 9-0." In the film clip, Lindell speaks to an anonymous cybersecurity expert who claims to have proof that China interfered in the election.
The conservative-leaning outlet The Dispatch spoke to experts who questioned the legitimacy of many of Lindell's claims in the film. This month, Lindell hosted what he called a "Cyber Symposium," where he said he would make public the evidence he had showing that China hacked the 2020 election. Reporters who attended the event said Lindell did not show any evidence proving his claims.
The private anti-China event in June proved to be another moment for Lindell to push his election claims. Lindell claimed in his speech that he found evidence showing China's attempts to interfere in the election.
"When this does get to the Supreme Court the biggest win here is that they look at it. They have to look at it and they're going to be heroes because we are going to show them that the CCP used the Democrat Party to attack our country through these machines," Lindell said.
Lindell explained in a phone interview Wednesday with CNBC that he was invited to the event by Bannon himself and he did not know Guo.
Lindell stood by his belief that China interfered in the election. However, he would not commit to a specific date to release his purported evidence to the public. He also said he had not seen the report by the U.S. intelligence community that explains China did not interfere in the presidential election.
"This happened. It's real," Lindell told CNBC. "It's one of the biggest cover-ups of the biggest crime in history."
Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and mayor of New York, was among the last speakers at the event. Giuliani's license to practice law was suspended both in New York and Washington, D.C., due to the false election claims he is spreading.
At the Guo-backed event, Giuliani took aim at Covid restrictions that were put in place by Democratic governors.
"You could see what I call the dictatorial instincts of socialists in Gov. Newsom, in Gov. Whitmer, in Gov. Cuomo. Just give them a little opportunity to exercise authority and they are going to slam down on you," Giuliani said, slamming his hand onto the podium.
"Arresting people in handcuffs for not wearing a mask?" Giuliani asked the crowd. "Looks a little like Berlin in the 1930s, huh?" he later added, referring to Nazi Germany.
Giuliani then revisited the Hunter Biden conspiracy. Giuliani's New York City apartment was raided almost two months before the Guo event. It was reportedly part of a probe into the former New York mayor's dealings in Ukraine. Giuliani had been trying to dig up dirt on Biden's son's business dealings in Ukraine during the election.
"You can't go through three days without a crime being committed by one of the Bidens," Giuliani said while describing the evidence he has reviewed against the Biden family, including a hard drive, a copy of which was purportedly provided to the New York Post.
"They are basically a crime family. They started 30 years ago selling his office, for little money. Then big money. Then when he became vice president, there's a pattern to it."
Video of the event: