Michael Flynn

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Michael Flynn at a campaign rally for then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, October 2016.
God, guns, and freedom
U.S. Politics
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Starting arguments over Thanksgiving dinner
Persons of interest
Flynn dining with Putin and Jill Stein in 2015
Arguably, you sold your country out.
—U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, during criminal sentencing hearings for Flynn[1]

Michael Thomas Flynn (1958–) is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General; he served from 1981–2014, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012-2014 under President Barack Obama. After retirement in 2014, he established the lobbying company Flynn Intel Group (FIN), where his son (Michael G. Flynn) served as the chief of staff.[2][3]

During Donald Trump's 2016 campaign for president, Flynn served as one of his advisers, and was tasked with improving relations with Russia.[4] Flynn served as the National Security AdvisorWikipedia under Donald Trump from January 20, 2017 – February 13, 2017, the shortest tenure in the history of that office. Flynn also had a brief advisory role at Cambridge Analytica, which advised the Trump campaign and is alleged to have engaged in illegal behavior.[5] He currently lives in Englewood, Florida.[6][7][8]

To Russia with love[edit]

FIN was accused in November 2016 by former-NSA agent John Schindler of receiving money from both Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan via intermediaries.[9] FIN received $530,000 from Inovo, a Dutch-based company owned by Kamil Ekim AlptekinWikipedia who is close to Erdoğan; the money was paid for FIN to investigate Fethullah Gülen who was accused by Erdogan of being behind a coup attempt.[10]

On December 1, 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to the crime of making "materially false statements and omissions" (a felony) to the FBI on January 24, 2017.[11] The false statements were with regard to:[11]

  • "Flynn's request to the Russian Ambassador [Sergey Kislyak] that Russia refrain from escalating the situation in response to U.S. sanctions against Russia"
  • "Flynn's request that foreign officials vote against or delay a United Nations Security Council Resolution"
  • "Flynn's contacts with foreign government" (specifically Turkey)

In exchange for this deal of pleading guilty to the single criminal charge and under continued threat of being charged with other crimes, Flynn agreed to fully cooperate with investigators.[12]

Following Flynn's guilty plea, and the judge in the case asking for more information about it, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, US Representative Darrel Issa, and Fox News's Jeanine Pirro all claimed that the judge would expose prosecutorial misconduct and throw out the plea (basically claiming that Flynn was innocent and duped).[13] Putting a kibosh on that idea, however, was the near-simultaneous unsealing of an indictment against Flynn’s business partners Bijan KianWikipedia and Kamil Ekim Alptekin for illegally acting as foreign agents of Turkey and conspiring to have Fethullah Gülen deported from the US to his native Turkey.[14]

Coup plotter[edit]

On November 25th, 2020, Flynn was pardoned by Trump during his lame duck period.[15]

Flynn publicly suggested that Trump declare martial law so that the latter could force a 'redo' of the 2020 election, which Trump lost.[16] The idea later involved his brother, active duty Lt. Gen. Charles A. Flynn, during the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot. Michael Flynn has garnered interest for his possible involvement in the attempted coup on January 6. The Congressional January 6 Committee attempted to interview him but he pleaded the Fifth Amendment to every question, even to "Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified morally?"[17]

Flynn has become a central figure in QAnon and has espoused QAnon messaging,[16] and members of his family are 'enmeshed' in QAnon, having sworn the "digital soldier oath".[18][19]:10

On May 30th 2021, during a QAnon conference in Dallas, Texas, Flynn was asked by a member of the audience if "what happened in Minamar (sic)" could happen in the United States. This, of course, was referencing the military coup that happened in Myanmar in February 2021. As QAnon believers were already participants in a much more amateurish attempted coup on January 6th 2021, predictably the audience erupted in cheers at this question. Flynn's response to this seditious wish was "No reason, I mean, it should happen here. No reason. That's right."[20][21] Flynn quickly backtracked from these statements the next Monday, complaining that the "media" was "manipulating my words" and tried to weakly retconWikipedia the above quote into something less seditious.[22]

On December 18, 2020, days after the Electoral College had certified Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, a group of high-level kooks showed up at the White House. The kooks were were not officially invited but were let in by a junior staffer and gained access to Trump anyway. The kooks included Flynn, conspiracy theorist Patrick Byrne, Trump's bogus election fraud lawyer Sidney Powell, disbarred Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others. What ensued was a prolonged and heated exchange between the kooks and White House lawyers. The kooks managed to convince Trump that by various connivances the election could be overturned even though they knew this would have been illegal and/or unconstitutional. Trump was convinced by the kooks and sent out the notorious "be there, will be wild" tweet in the early morning hours of the 19th, setting the stage for incitement of the coup attempt on January 6th, 2021.[23]

ReAwaken America Tour[edit]

A few months after the coup attempt failed, Flynn (along with an Oklahoma entrepreneur named Clay Clark and some seed money from Patrick Byrne)[24] launched a traveling roadshow called the ReAwaken America TourWikipedia. The tour was dedicated to spreading the message of Trump's Big Lie in parallel with promoting Christian nationalism.[25] These events thus mixed the charismatic religious fervor found in many evangelical churches (along with elements used in these worship services such as contemporary praise music and religious symbols) with nakedly political and/or conspiracy theory elements that parallel support of Trump's Big Lie, such as support of the anti-vaccination movement, support of QAnon, and opposition of Black Lives Matter.[26][27]

Guest speakers typically include a mixture of far-right and/or conspiracy nutjob figures (such as Mike Lindell, Alex Jones, Simone Gold, Sherri Tenpenny, Roger Stone, and Flynn himself) along with radical Dominionist "preachers" such as Greg Locke and Mark BurnsWikipedia.[25][24][28][29] Speeches at this event predictably contained plenty of antisemitic, racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric purportedly in the name of Christianity, along with elements of violence and coded profanities such as "Let's Go Brandon".[30][31]

In May 2023, Rachel Maddow and Media Matters for America highlighted that two RumbleWikipedia personalities on the ReAwaken America tour (both of whom were aligned with Eric TrumpWikipedia), Scott McKay (aka "Patriot Streetfighter") and Charlie Ward, had a long history of making statements that were not just antisemitic, but were pure pro-Hitler propaganda.[32][33][34]

Despite the clear political element of these events, most of them were held at churches.[27]

Due to the blatantly naked political (and perhaps even heretical) nature of these events, as well as Flynn's controversial Christian nationalism advocacy of a single nationalized religion for the United States, the event was very controversial even among Christians. Many Christian leaders, as well as Christian groups formed to oppose the rise of Christian nationalism in the wake of Donald Trump,[note 1] have condemned, pushed back, and protested against Flynn's roadshow.[28][35][30][36]

See also[edit]


  1. Two notable Christian groups that often have protested ReAwaken America events are Christians Against Christian Nationalism (a self-descriptive group founded by Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious LibertyWikipedia) and Faithful America (a progressive Christian advocacy group)


  1. 'I'm not hiding my disgust, my disdain': Veteran judge upends hopes of Trump allies as he spotlights Flynn’s misdeeds by Carol D. Leonnig & Rosalind S. Helderman (December 18 at 7:42 PM) The Washington Post.
  2. Mike Flynn's Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Probe by Carol E. Lee et al. (Sep 13 2017, 5:00 pm ET) NBC News.
  3. How Michael Flynn’s Disdain for Limits Led to a Legal Quagmire by Nicholas Confessore (June 18, 2017) The New York Times.
  4. Flynn prepared to testify that Trump directed him to contact Russians about ISIS, confidant says by Brian Ross et al. (Dec 1, 2017, 11:06 AM ET) ABC News.
  5. Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained: Why House investigators think this company might have gamed Facebook and helped Russia spread fake news. by Sean Illing (Updated Mar 17, 2018, 8:37am EDT) Vox.
  6. "Mike Flynn buys Englewood home". Charlotte Sun Newspaper. Adams Publishers. 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2022-12-03. 
  7. "Michael Flynn, former Trump adviser, buys home in Englewood, Florida". Sarasota Herald Tribune. 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2022-12-03. 
  8. "Michael Thomas Flynn's Florida Voter Registration". Voterrecords.com. Retrieved 2022-12-03. 
  9. Donald Trump's national security chief 'took money from Putin and Erdogan', says former NSA employee: The former general will not require Senate approval to take up the senior security position by Andrew Buncombe (24 November 2016 16:07 GMT) The Independent.
  10. The mystery behind a Flynn associate’s quiet work for the Trump campaign by Matea Gold (May 4, 2017) The Washington Post.
  11. 11.0 11.1 United States of America v. Micheal T. Flynn Case 1:17-cr-00232-RC Document 4 Filed 12/01/17
  12. What probably led Michael Flynn to flip sides in the Russia investigation by Amber Phillips (December 1, 2017) The Washington Post.
  13. The ‘Michael Flynn is an innocent hero’ conspiracy theory suffers a major setback by Aaron Blake (December 17, 2018 at 1:22 PM) The Washington Post.
  14. Michael Flynn's business partner charged with illegally lobbying for Turkey by Rachel Weiner, Carol D. Leonnig & Matt Zapotosky (December 17, 2018 at 1:31 PM) The Washington Post.
  15. Michael Flynn: Trump pardons ex-national security adviser
  16. 16.0 16.1 Army falsely denied Flynn’s brother was involved in key part of military response to Capitol riot by Dan Lamothe et al. (Jan. 20, 2021 at 5:24 p.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  17. Here's every word from the sixth Jan. 6 committee hearing on its investigation (June 28, 20226:23 PM ET) NPR.
  18. Michael Flynn’s relatives deny using QAnon gesture and claim it was a family ‘statement of support’ in CNN lawsuit by Nathan Place ( 08 July 2021 18:29) The Independent.
  19. The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything by Mike Rothschild (2021) Melville House. ISBN 1612199291.
  20. "Echoing QAnon forums, Michael Flynn appears to suggest a Myanmar-style coup should happen in the United States" by Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, 2021 May 31
  21. "US should have coup like Myanmar, former Trump advisor Michael Flynn tells QAnon conference in Texas" by Stuti Mishra, Independent, 2021 May 31
  22. "Michael Flynn denies suggesting a Myanmar-style military coup should happen in the US" by Connor Perret, Business Insider, 2021 May 31
  23. Here's every word from the seventh Jan. 6 committee hearing on its investigation (July 12, 20226:32 PM ET) NPR.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Far-right project that pushed election lies expands mission as Trump ramps up 2024 campaign" by Peter Stone, Guardian, 2023 January 30
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Michael Flynn’s ReAwaken Roadshow Recruits ‘Army of God’" by Richard Lardner and Michelle R. Smith, PBS Frontline (in partnership with the Associated Press), 2022 October 7
  26. "The ReAwaken America Tour unites conservative Christians and conspiracy theorists" by Lisa Hagen, NPR, 2022 November 3
  27. 27.0 27.1 "The Growing Religious Fervor in the American Right: ‘This Is a Jesus Movement’" by Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, New York Times, 2022 April 6
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Michael Flynn calls for ‘one religion’ at event that is a who’s who of the new Christian right" by Bob Smietana, Washington Post, 2021 November 19
  29. "Pro-Trump Pastor Cites Bible to Suggest Violence Needed to Take Power" by Fatma Khaled, Newsweek, 2023 May 13
  30. 30.0 30.1 "ReAwaken America proves that Christian nationalism isn’t Christian" by Rev. Jennifer Butler, Inquirer, 2022 October 19
  31. 'Let's Go Brandon' Chanted at QAnon-Linked Church Event in Texas by Ewan Palmer, Newsweek, 2021 November 15
  32. "Gosh, how do the Trumps keep "accidentally" hanging out with Hitler fanboys?" by Amanda Marcotte, Salon, 2023 May 11
  33. "Eric Trump tourmate claims Jewish people are frauds and “Hitler was actually fighting the same people that we're trying to take down today”" by Eric Hananoki, Media Matters, 2023 February 6
  34. "Hitler-promoting antisemites will speak at Trump’s Miami hotel alongside Eric Trump, Lara Trump, and other Trump personalities" by Eric Hananoki, Media Matters, 2023 May 8
  35. "Reawaken America Tour Faces Pushback for Politics in Church & Call for National Religion" by Heather Sells, CBN, 2021 November 17
  36. "Christian Groups Confront Pro-Trump Rally With This Quote From Jesus" by Andrew Stanton, Newsweek, 2023 May 13