Michael Thomas Flynn (born December 1958) is a retired United States ArmyLieutenant General who served in the U.S. Army for 33 years, from 1981 until 2014. In January 2017 he briefly served as National Security Advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump. In December 2017 he pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI (a felony) about contacts he had with the Russian government during Trump's presidential transition.
Flynn's military career included a key role in shaping U.S. counterterrorism strategy and dismantling insurgent networks in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he was given numerous combat arms, conventional, and special operationssenior intelligence assignments. He was appointed by President Barack Obamaas the eighteenth director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, serving from July 2012 to his retirement from the military in August 2014. After leaving the military, he established Flynn Intel Group, which has provided intelligence services for businesses and governments, including ones in Turkey.
Flynn briefly served as the National Security Advisor for President Donald Trump, from January 20 to February 13, 2017. He resigned after information surfaced that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature and content of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.Flynn's tenure of just 24 days was the shortest in the office's history.
On April 27, 2017, the Pentagon inspector general announced an investigation into whether Flynn had accepted money from foreign governments without the required approval. Flynn initially refused to hand over subpoenaed documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee, pleading the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, but a compromise with the committee was worked out. On December 1, 2017, Flynn appeared in federal court to formalize a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to a single felony count of "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI. He confirmed his intention to cooperate with the Special Counsel's investigation.
Flynn, with his son Michael G. Flynn, ran the Flynn Intel Group Inc, which provided intelligence services for businesses and governments before closing in 2016. The company was founded in the fall of 2014, and restarted in June 2015 as a Delaware company.
Flynn was paid over $65,000 by companies connected to Russia in 2015, including $11,250 from both Volga-Dnepr Airlines and the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab. Other clients included Palo Alto Networks, Francisco Partners, Brainwave Science and Adobe Systems.
While working as a consultant Flynn served on the board of several organizations, including GreenZone Systems, Patriot Capital, Brainwave, Drone Aviation and OSY Technologies. Subsidiaries of the Flynn Intel Group included FIG Cyber Inc, headed by Timothy Newberry, and FIG Aviation.
In July 2016, Flynn spoke at a meeting of ACT! for America at a point when the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was still underway. He spoke favorably of the coup participants, saying that Erdogan had been moving Turkey away from secularism and towards Islamism, and that participants in the coup wanted Turkey to be and to be seen as a secular nation—a goal "worth clapping for."
By the end of September 2016, Flynn's consulting company was hired by Inovo BV, a company owned by Kamil Ekim Alptekin, the Chair of the Turkish-American Business Council, which is an arm of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK).
On November 8 (election day in the United States), an op-ed written by Flynn was published by The Hill, calling for U.S. backing for Erdogan's government and criticizing the regime's opponent, Fethullah Gülen, alleging that Gülen headed a "vast global network" that fitted "the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network". At the time, Flynn did not disclose that his consulting firm had received funds from a company with ties to the Turkish government. After Flynn's ties had been disclosed by The Daily Caller, Politico, and others, the editor of The Hill added a note to Flynn's op-ed, stating that Flynn had failed to disclose that he had been engaged at the time in "consulting work that might have aided the government of Turkey," that his firm had received payments from a company with close ties to the Turkish government, or that the company had reviewed the draft of the op-ed before it was submitted to The Hill.
On March 8, 2017, Flynn registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before election day. This work was done on behalf of a Dutch-based company that may have been working for the Turkish government.
On March 24, 2017, former Director of the CIA James Woolsey said that in September 2016 Flynn, while working for the Trump presidential campaign, had attended a meeting in a New York hotel with Turkish officials including foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and energy minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and had discussed abducting Fethullah Gülen and sending him to Turkey, bypassing the U.S. extradition legal process.
Flynn sat in on classified national security briefings with then-candidate Trump at the same time that Flynn was working for foreign clients, which raises ethical concerns and conflicts of interest. Flynn was paid at least $5,000 to serve as a consultant to a U.S.-Russian project to build 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East, which Flynn's failure to disclose was flagged by Representatives Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel as a possible violation of federal law.
Attendance at RT gala dinner
On December 10, 2015, Flynn attended a gala dinner in Moscow in honor of RT (formerly "Russia Today"), a Russian government-owned English-language media outlet, on which he made semi-regular appearances as an analyst after he retired from U.S. government service. Flynn sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the dinner, leading journalist Michael Crowley of Politico to report that "at a moment of semi-hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin's table startled" U.S. officials. As part of the festivities, Flynn gave a talk on world affairs for which he was paid at least $45,000. Flynn defended the RT payment in an interview with Michael Isikoff.[
On February 1, 2017, the ranking Democratic members on six House committees sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, requesting a Department of Defenseinvestigation into Flynn's connection to RT. The legislators expressed concern that Flynn had violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution by accepting money from RT.
A 2017 report by the United States Intelligence Community characterized RT as "The Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet" and said that RT America is set up as an autonomous nonprofit organization "to avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act".
As a retired military intelligence officer, Flynn was required to obtain prior permission from the Defense Department and the State Department before receiving any money from foreign governments. Flynn apparently did not seek that approval before the RT speech, and he did not report the payment when he applied for renewal of his security clearance two months later. Glenn A. Fine, the acting Defense Department Inspector General, has confirmed he is investigating Flynn.
2016 U.S. presidential election
Having already been consulted regarding national security by Fiorina as well as other candidates, including Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump, Flynn was asked in February 2016 to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign.
In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump's running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documentsto the campaign and, although a registered Democrat, was willing to accept the Republicanvice-presidential nomination if chosen. However, Trump instead selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
As one of the keynote speakers during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, Flynn gave what the Los Angeles Times described as a "fiery" speech, in which he stated: "We are tired of Obama's empty speeches and his misguided rhetoric. This, this has caused the world to have no respect for America's word, nor does it fear our might"; he accused Obama of choosing to conceal the actions of Osama bin Laden and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Flynn went on to criticize political correctnessand joined the crowd in a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!". During the chants he told those in the audience, "Get fired up! This is about our country."
During the speech, Flynn launched a blistering attack on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He led the crowd in chants of "Lock her up!"; during one of those chants, he encouraged the crowd to keep it up, saying, "Damn right! Exactly right! There is nothing wrong with that!" He called for Clinton to withdraw from the race, saying that "if I did a tenth of what she did, I'd be in jail today." He repeated in subsequent interviews that she should be "locked up". While campaigning for Trump, Flynn also referred to Clinton as the "enemy camp". Six days after the speech, Flynn stirred up a controversy by retweeting anti-Semitic remarks, which he later apologized for and claimed were unintentional. During the election campaign, Flynn used Twitter to post links to negative stories about Clinton, like the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
Flynn was once opposed to waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques that have now been banned; however, according to an August 2016 Washington Post article, he said at one point, in the context of Trump's apparent openness to reinstating such techniques, that "he would be reluctant to take options off the table." In May 2016, Flynn was asked by an Al Jazeera reporter if he would support Trump's stated plan to "take out [the] families" of people suspected of being involved in terrorism. In response, Flynn stated, "I would have to see the circumstances of that situation."In an interview with Al Jazeera, Flynn criticized the U.S. reliance on drones as a "failed strategy", stating that "what we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just ... fuels the conflict."