Michael T. Flynn
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Michael T. Flynn

Michael Flynn
Michael T Flynn.jpg
25th United States National Security Advisor

January 23, 2017 - February 13, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyK. T. McFarland
Susan Rice
H. R. McMaster
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

July 24, 2012 - August 7, 2014
PresidentBarack Obama
Ronald L. Burgess Jr.
David Shedd (acting)
Personal details
Michael Thomas Flynn

(1958-12-24) December 24, 1958 (age 61)
Middletown, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic[1]
Spouse(s)Lori Andrade
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1981-2014
RankUS-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General

Michael Thomas Flynn (born December 24, 1958) is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General who was briefly the National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump. In 2017 he pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI in relation to the Special Counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

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 operations senior intelligence assignments.[2][3][4] He served as the 18th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, serving from July 2012 until his forced retirement from the military in August 2014.[5][6][7] After leaving the military, he established Flynn Intel Group, which provided intelligence services for businesses and governments, including ones in Turkey.[8][9] He became a senior advisor to Trump during his presidential campaign and served as the National Security Advisor from January 23[10] to February 13, 2017.[11] He resigned after information surfaced that he had misled the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence about the nature and content of his communications with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.[12][13] Flynn's tenure of just 24 days is the shortest in the office's history.[14][15]

On April 27, 2017, the Pentagon inspector general announced an investigation into whether Flynn had accepted money from foreign governments without the required approval.[16]The New York Times reported on May 18, 2018, that a longtime FBI/CIA informant had met Flynn at an intelligence seminar in Britain six months earlier and became alarmed by Flynn's closeness to a Russian woman there; this concern prompted another individual to alert American authorities that Flynn may have been compromised by Russian intelligence.[17] 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.[18][19] On December 1, 2017, Flynn appeared in federal court to formalize a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to a felony count of "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI.[20] He confirmed his intention to cooperate with the Special Counsel's investigation.

Early life

Michael Thomas Flynn was born and raised in Middletown, Rhode Island, one of nine siblings[3] born to Helen Frances (née Andrews), who worked in real estate, and Charles Francis Flynn, a small-town banker, both Catholics of Irish descent.[21][22][23][24][25]

Flynn graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science degree in management science in 1981 and was a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, a Master of Military Art and Science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.[7] He is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course, Ranger School, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and Naval War College.[7]

Military career

U.S. Army

General Stanley McChrystal and Flynn in Afghanistan, 2010

Flynn was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in military intelligence in 1981.[7] His military assignments included multiple tours at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Joint Special Operations Command, where he deployed for the invasion of Grenada and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.[26] He also served with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.[7]

Flynn served as the assistant chief of staff, G2, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from June 2001 and the director of intelligence at the Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan until July 2002. He commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade from June 2002 to June 2004[7] and was the director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007, with service in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom). The subject and his superior, General McChrystal, streamlined all intelligence so as to increase the tempo of operations and degrade the networks of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.[27] He served as the director of intelligence of the United States Central Command from June 2007 to July 2008, as the director of intelligence of the Joint Staff from July 2008 to June 2009, then the director of intelligence of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from June 2009 to October 2010.[7][28]

On November 10, 2015, Flynn gave an interview to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) "Lessons Learned" project. The Washington Post published an audio recording of the interview and SIGAR's summary as part of the Afghanistan Papers.

Defense Intelligence Agency

Flynn speaks during the change of directorship for the Defense Intelligence Agency on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.
Flynn with Martin Dempsey and Ashton Carter, June 11, 2013

In September 2011, Flynn was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned as assistant director of national intelligence in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On April 17, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.[29][30] Flynn took command of the DIA in July 2012.[31] He simultaneously became commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and chair of the Military Intelligence Board.

In October 2012, Flynn announced plans to release his paper "VISION2020: Accelerating Change Through Integration", a look at changes he believes are necessary for the DIA in the future.[32][33]

In June 2013, Michael Flynn became the first U.S. officer to be allowed inside the Russian military intelligence (GRU) headquarters in Moscow, where he arrived at the invitation of the GRU chief General Igor Sergun.[34][35] His follow-up trip to visit the GRU HQ as Director of DIA was not allowed.[35]

Stefan Halper, who worked for three Republican presidents and was a longtime informant for the American intelligence community, had a February 2014 encounter with Flynn at a London intelligence conference. Halper became so alarmed by Flynn's close association with a Russian woman that a Halper associate expressed concerns to American authorities that Flynn may have been compromised by Russian intelligence. Flynn was forced out of the DIA six months later, although public accounts at the time cited other reasons for his removal, including his management style and views on Islam. Halper was later a central figure in Spygate, a conspiracy theory initiated by President Donald Trump that asserted the FBI had planted a spy in his 2016 campaign.[36]

Retirement from the military

On April 30, 2014, Flynn announced his retirement effective later that year, about a year earlier than he had been scheduled to leave his position. He was reportedly effectively forced out of the DIA after clashing with superiors over his allegedly chaotic management style and vision for the agency.[37][38][39][40] In a private e-mail that was leaked online, Colin Powell said that he had heard in the DIA (apparently from later DIA director Vincent R. Stewart) that Flynn was fired because he was "abusive with staff, didn't listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc."[39] According to The New York Times, Flynn exhibited a loose relationship with the truth, leading his subordinates to refer to Flynn's repeated dubious assertions as "Flynn facts".[41]

According to what Flynn had stated in one final interview as DIA director, he felt like a lone voice in thinking that the United States was less safe from the threat of Islamic terrorism in 2014 than it was prior to the 9/11 attacks; he went on to believe that he was pressed into retirement for questioning the Obama administration's public narrative that Al Qaeda was close to defeat.[42] Journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that "Flynn confirmed [to Hersh] that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings ... about the dire consequences of toppling [Syrian President] Assad." Flynn recounted that his agency was producing intelligence reports indicating that radical Islamists were the main force in the Syrian insurgency and "that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria". According to Flynn, these reports "got enormous pushback from the Obama administration," who he felt "did not want to hear the truth". According to former DIA official W. Patrick Lang: "Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria ... they shoved him out. He wouldn't shut up."[43] In an interview with Al Jazeera, Flynn criticized the Obama administration for its delay in supporting the opposition in Syria, thereby allowing for the growth of Al-Nusra and other extremist forces: "when you don't get in and help somebody, they're gonna find other means to achieve their goals" and that "we should have done more earlier on in this effort, you know, than we did."[44]

Flynn retired from the U.S. Army with 33 years of service on August 7, 2014.[45]


Consulting firm

Flynn, with his son Michael G. Flynn, ran the Flynn Intel Group Inc, which provided intelligence services for businesses and governments.[8][46] The company was founded in the fall of 2014, restarted in June 2015 as a Delaware company,[46] and closed in 2016.

Flynn was paid more than $65,000 by companies connected to Russia in 2015, including $11,250 each from Volga-Dnepr Airlines and the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab.[46][47] Other clients included Palo Alto Networks, Francisco Partners, Brainwave Science and Adobe Systems.[46]

While working as a consultant, Flynn served on the board of several organizations, including GreenZone Systems, Patriot Capital, Brainwave, Drone Aviation and OSY Technologies.[46][48][49] Subsidiaries of the Flynn Intel Group included FIG Cyber Inc, headed by Timothy Newberry, and FIG Aviation.[48][50]

In July 2018, the consulting firm Stonington Global LLC announced that Flynn was joining the firm as its director of global strategy, though Flynn's attorneys disputed that there had ever been a partnership several hours later.[51]

Foreign agent

Flynn's former business associate Bijan Rafiekian was charged with illegally acting as an unregistered agent of Turkey.[52]

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 Erdo?an was still underway. He spoke favorably of the coup participants, saying that Erdo?an 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."[53]

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).[54][55][56][57][58]

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 Erdo?an'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".[59][60][61] At the time, Flynn did not disclose that his consulting firm had received funds from a company with ties to the Turkish government.[62] 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.[59]

On March 8, 2017, Flynn registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before election day.[63] This work was done on behalf of a Dutch-based company that may have been working for the Turkish government.[63]

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 Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu 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.[64]

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.[65][66] 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.[67][68]

Attendance at RT gala dinner

In December 2015, Flynn attended RT's 10th anniversary gala.[69][70] Flynn is sitting next to Vladimir Putin during the dinner. Jill Stein (in the foreground) and Mikhail Gorbachev (in background) also attended the gala.

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.[71]

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.[47][72][73] As part of the festivities, Flynn gave a talk on world affairs for which he was paid at least $45,000.[71] Flynn defended the RT payment in an interview with Michael Isikoff.[73]

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 Defense investigation into Flynn's connection to RT.[74] The legislators expressed concern that Flynn had violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution by accepting money from RT.[74]

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".[75][76]

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.[71]Glenn A. Fine, the acting Defense Department Inspector General, has confirmed he is investigating Flynn.[47]

2016 U.S. presidential election

Flynn at a campaign rally, October 2016

Having already been consulted regarding national security by Carly Fiorina as well as other candidates, including Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump,[77] Flynn was asked in February 2016 to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign.[78]

In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump's running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documents to the campaign and, although a registered Democrat, was willing to accept the Republican vice-presidential nomination if chosen.[79][1] 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";[80] he accused Obama of choosing to conceal the actions of Osama bin Laden and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[81] Flynn went on to criticize political correctness and 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."[80][82]

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!"[42] 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."[83][84] He repeated in subsequent interviews that she should be "locked up".[77] While campaigning for Trump, Flynn also referred to Clinton as the "enemy camp".[83] Six days after the speech, Flynn stirred up a controversy by retweeting anti-Semitic remarks, which he later apologized for and claimed were unintentional.[85] During the election campaign, Flynn used Twitter to post links to negative stories about Clinton, like the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.[86]

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."[83] In May 2016, Flynn was asked by an Al Jazeera reporter if he would support Trump's stated plan to "take out [the] families"[87][88] of people suspected of being involved in terrorism. In response, Flynn stated, "I would have to see the circumstances of that situation."[83] 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."[44][89]

On August 16, 2016, the FBI opened a case on Flynn as part of its Crossfire Hurricane investigation.[90]

The Trump transition team during the campaign, chaired by former 2016 Presidential candidate, Governor Chris Christie, was against the subject serving in the National Security Adviser position or at any high level because he was viewed as 'a loose cannon'.[91]

Advocacy of technology transfer to Saudi Arabia

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign of Donald Trump, and subsequently, Flynn and Jared Kushner were engaged in promoting IP3 International's plan to transfer nuclear technology from the US to Saudi Arabia, for use in a proposed joint US-French-Russian-British project, in possible violation of the law.[92][93][94][95][96]

National Security Advisor

On November 10, 2016, President Obama warned President-elect Trump against hiring Flynn.[97] During their meeting in the Oval Office two days after the election, Obama expressed "profound concerns" about hiring Flynn to a sensitive, high-level national security post.[98] In May 2019, Trump tweeted, "It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge. It would have been impossible for me to know this but, if that was the case, and with me being one of two people who would become president, why was I not told so that I could make a change?" Shortly after Trump's election, Flynn himself had advised transition team counsel Don McGahn that he was under federal investigation for secret lobbying work he had done for Turkey during the campaign, and Trump advisor Chris Christie directly advised Trump against hiring Flynn, as did President Barack Obama two days after the election.[99][100][101]

On November 18, 2016, Flynn accepted Trump's offer for the position of National Security Advisor.[102] Prior to his appointment, media sources including The Washington Post and Associated Press had already criticized his close relations with Russia,[72][73][103][104] and his promotion of anti-Clinton conspiracy theories and fake news during the 2016 presidential campaign.[86][105]

In December 2016, Flynn met with Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), at Trump Tower in New York.[106]

On December 29, 2016, Flynn spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the same day the Obama administration announced retaliatory measures in response to the interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign by the Russian government. The phone conversation was reportedly viewed by Obama advisers who had been briefed on its content by the F.B.I. with suspicion as possibly a secret deal between the incoming team and Moscow, which could have violated the dormant Logan Act that bars unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the United States.[107][108][109] The day after reporting by David Ignatius, Trump's incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer said the conversation had occurred on December 28 and thus couldn't have touched on the retaliation measures or Russia's response; Spicer later had to correct himself on the date of the conversation.[110]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinz? Abe meets with President-elect Trump, Kushner and Flynn in November 2016.

On January 4, 2017, Flynn informed Don McGahn, soon to become the White House Counsel, that he was under investigation over his work for Turkey.[111] Ten days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, Flynn told then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice not to proceed with a planned invasion of Raqqa using Kurdish People's Protection Units.[112] Flynn's decision would delay the campaign--which had taken seven months to plan--for several more months, but was consistent with Turkish objections to working with Kurdish troops.[113]

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, in May8 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, said the FBI interviewed Flynn, on January 24, 2017. Based on the results of that interview, she made an "urgent" request to meet with McGahn.[114] She met with him on January 26 and again on January 27.[115] She informed McGahn that Flynn was "compromised" and possibly open to blackmail by the Russians. Yates told McGahn that Flynn had misled Pence and other administration officials about the nature of his conversation with the Russian ambassador.[103][116][117] She added that Flynn's "underlying conduct", which she could not describe due to classification, "was problematic in and of itself," saying "(i)t was a whole lot more than one White House official lying to another."[114][115] Former United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called the possibility of Flynn being blackmailed "kind of a stretch," while acknowledging that his false statement was "a problem ... that I would tell the president about."[118]

On January 22, 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn was under investigation by U.S. counterintelligence agents for his communications with Russian officials.[119] On February 8, 2017, Flynn flatly denied having spoken to Kislyak in December 2016 about the sanctions placed on Russia by the Obama administration; however, the next day, U.S. intelligence officials shared an account indicating that such discussions did in fact take place.[120] Following this revelation, Flynn's spokesman released a statement that Flynn "indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up".[121]

Flynn was an important link in the connections between Putin and Trump in the "Ukraine peace plan", an unofficial plan "organized outside regular diplomatic channels... at the behest of top aides to President Putin". This plan, aimed at easing the sanctions imposed on Russia, progressed from Putin and his advisors to Ukrainian politician Andrey Artemenko, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen, and Flynn, where he would have then presented it to Trump. The New York Times reported that Sater delivered the plan "in a sealed envelope" to Cohen, who then passed it on to Flynn in February 2017, just before his resignation.[122]

Dismissal and investigation

Michael T. Flynn resignation letter

On February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor, following news reports about his communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak and additional reports that he had misled the Vice President about them.[123] Flynn's 24-day tenure as National Security Advisor was the shortest in the 63-year history of the office.[15] Those communications he had with the Russian ambassador were subsequently leaked to the press.[124]

Commenting on Flynn's resignation, on February 14 White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated, "We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, where a level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change... The issue here was that the President got to the point where General Flynn's relationship--misleading the Vice President and others, or the possibility that he had forgotten critical details of this important conversation had created a critical mass and an unsustainable situation. That's why the President decided to ask for his resignation, and he got it."[125]

That same day (February 14), President Trump met with FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office and reportedly told him "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go" adding "he's a good guy."[126] Comey subsequently testified that, "I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December... I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign".[127] The propriety, and even the legality, of these words that Trump reportedly said to Comey about Flynn have become a subject of considerable public debate.[128] Several months after dismissing Flynn, Trump also dismissed Comey, which Comey attributed to the FBI's Russia investigation.[129]

Flynn had offered to testify to the FBI or the Senate and House Intelligence committees relating to the Russia probe in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution.[130] However, the Senate Intelligence Committee rejected Flynn's offer for testimony in exchange for immunity.[131] Flynn initially declined to respond to a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but he and the committee later struck a compromise.[19][47] The Pentagon inspector general is also investigating whether Flynn accepted money from foreign governments without the required approval.[16]

On November 5, 2017, NBC News reported that Robert Mueller had enough evidence for charges against Flynn and his son, Michael G. Flynn.[132] On November 10, The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn was under investigation by Mueller for allegedly planning a kidnapping and extrajudicial rendition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen to Turkey.[133][134] On November 22, NBC News reported that Michael T. Flynn's business partner Bijan Kian was a subject of the Mueller probe.[135] NBC reported that a Turkish businessman named Reza Zarrab, who was picked up in 2016 by US authorities in Miami on Iranian sanctions violations and money laundering charges, was offering evidence against Flynn.[136][137]

On November 23, 2017, it was reported that Flynn's lawyers notified Trump's legal team they can no longer discuss anything regarding Mueller's investigation, suggesting that Flynn may be cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal.[138][139][140]

Plea bargain and statement of offense

Flynn statement of offense

On December 1, 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller agreed to a plea bargain in which Flynn pleaded guilty to "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia's ambassador. Specifically, Flynn falsely denied that he had asked Russia's ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016, "to refrain from escalating... in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day."[141] Flynn pleaded guilty the same day as such plea bargain and acknowledged that he was cooperating with the investigation by Mueller.[142] Flynn stated;[143]

It has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of "treason" and other outrageous acts.... Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.

Bloomberg reporter Eli Lake wrote in an opinion piece on December 1, 2017, that two former Trump transition team officials provided information indicating that Jared Kushner was the senior member of the team described in Flynn's plea documents as having directed Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, asking them to delay or vote against a United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 on the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, contrary to the still-incumbent Obama administration's position of support for the resolution.[144][145] This was also confirmed by other news outlets, who cited multiple sources.[146][147]


Sentencing of Flynn has been deferred several times,[148][149] most recently on November 27, 2019[150] and February 10, 2020.[151][152][153] As part of Flynn's plea negotiations, his son, Michael G. Flynn, is not expected to be charged.[154]

In a sentencing memorandum released on December 4, 2018, the Mueller investigation stated Flynn "deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government" and should receive little or no jail time.[155]

Flynn's attorneys submitted a sentencing memo on December 11, 2018, requesting leniency and suggesting FBI agents had tricked him into lying during the January 24, 2017, White House interview and did not advise him that lying to federal agents is a felony. The memo also asserted that Flynn's relaxed behavior during the interview indicated he was being truthful. Trump echoed this assertion two days later on Twitter and Fox News, asserting, "They convinced him he did lie, and he made some kind of a deal." [156]

Mueller's office rejected these assertions the next day, stating agents had told Flynn portions of what he had discussed with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak to jog his memory, but Flynn did not waver from his false statements. FBI agents concluded that Flynn's relaxed behavior during the interview was actually because he was fully committed to his lies and therefore could be compromised by the Kremlin.[] Mueller's office also documented instances when Flynn lied about the Kislyak conversation during the days before the FBI interview. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered documents related to the interview be provided to him prior to Flynn's December 18 sentencing. The New York Times reported that Flynn's "decision to attack the FBI in his own plea for probation appeared to be a gambit for a pardon from Mr. Trump, whose former lawyer had broached the prospect last year with a lawyer for Mr. Flynn."[157][158]

Sullivan, who had a history of skepticism about government conduct,[159] rebuked Flynn at his December 18 sentencing hearing. Citing evidence not released to the public, the judge told him, "arguably you sold your country out",[160][161] and warned, "I cannot assure that if you proceed today you will not receive a sentence of incarceration." He offered to delay the sentencing until Flynn's cooperation with investigators was complete. After conferring with his attorneys, Flynn accepted the delay. During the hearing, Sullivan indicated he was offended by the suggestion in the sentencing memo submitted by Flynn's attorneys that the FBI had misled Flynn, as it created an appearance that Flynn wanted to both accept a generous plea deal from prosecutors while also contending he had been entrapped. He asked several questions of Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, to determine if the defense was maintaining that the FBI had acted improperly in its investigation of Flynn, including whether he had been entrapped. Kelner responded, "No, your honor" to each question. Flynn acknowledged to Sullivan that he was aware that lying to federal investigators was a crime at the time of his initial FBI interview in January 2017. Sullivan then delayed sentencing.[162][163][164][165]

On May 16, 2019, an unredacted version of a December 2018 government sentencing memo for Flynn showed that he advised investigators that both before and after his guilty plea "he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation." The Mueller Report described a November 2017 voicemail Flynn's attorneys received from Trump's "personal counsel," reportedly John Dowd, who said, "[I]f...there's information that implicates the President, then we've got a national security issue...so, you know... we need some kind of heads up," reiterating the president's "feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains." The newly unredacted information also showed that members of the Trump campaign discussed contacting WikiLeaks about the release of emails and "potential efforts to interfere with the SCO's investigation."[166][167] The day the unredacted court filing was released, judge Sullivan ordered that the full transcript of the voicemail be released to the public by May 31, as well as the transcript of Flynn's conversation with Kislyak and unredacted portions of the Mueller Report relating to Flynn.[168] The Justice Department released the Dowd transcript on May 31, but not the Flynn materials.[169]

In June 2019, Flynn fired the Covington & Burling attorneys who had negotiated his plea deal and hired Sidney Powell, who had previously urged Flynn to withdraw his guilty plea. Trump complimented Flynn and Powell on Twitter.[170] Testimony of contractors of the Flynn company in the Bijan Rafiekian trial indicate their foreign customer was interested in classified government information on Turkey's cleric Fethullah Gülen, surveillance of Gülen supporters, and likely terrorist links that might be turned up by their own investigations of the Turkish cleric.[52][171]Bijan Rafiekian, who was a partner of Michael Flynn in the Flynn Intel Group and worked with the incoming Trump administration's transition team, was charged with illegally acting as an unregistered agent of Turkey.[52][172]

On December 16, 2019, judge Sullivan rejected Flynn's assertions of entrapment by the FBI and malfeasance by prosecutors after a review of possible case related findings in the Michael Horowitz report, setting his sentencing date for January 28, 2020.[173] Sullivan asked prosecutors to present a new sentencing memo; they had previously recommended little or no jail time, but more recently suggested they might change their position.[174] On January 7, 2020, prosecutors presented a sentencing memo calling for Flynn to be sentenced to a term of up to six months.[175] One week later, Flynn filed a motion seeking permission to withdraw his guilty plea, "because of the government's bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement."[176] On January 16, Sullivan postponed Flynn's sentencing date to February 27.[177] On January 22, Flynn requested he be sentenced to probation and community service if his request to withdraw his guilty plea is not granted.[178] After senior Justice Department officials intervened in February 2020 to recommend a lighter sentence for Roger Stone than prosecutors had recommended the day before, NBC News reported that the previous month senior DOJ officials had also intervened to recommend Flynn's sentence be reduced from up to six months in the original recommendation to probation.[179]

Days before Flynn's scheduled sentencing, attorney general Bill Barr appointed Jeffrey Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, to examine Flynn's prosecution.[180] On February 10, 2020, Flynn's sentencing was postponed indefinitely, to allow both sides to prepare arguments in response to his claim that his previous lawyers violated his constitutional rights by providing inadequate legal counsel.[153]

Political views

Flynn is a registered Democrat, having grown up in a "very strong Democratic family".[181] However, he was a keynote speaker during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention,[80] and he was a surrogate and top national security adviser for President Donald Trump.

During a July 10, 2016, interview on ABC News' This Week, when asked by host Martha Raddatz about the issue of abortion, Flynn stated, "women have to be able to choose."[181][182] The next day, Flynn said on Fox News that he is a "pro-life Democrat".[183]

Flynn is a supporter of current Israeli policies.[184][185] He is also an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal. In February 2017, Flynn said that "the Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran's malign actions--including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms".[186] Flynn accused Yemen's Houthi rebels of being one of Iran's "proxy terrorist groups" in February 2017.[187] Flynn also criticized Obama's administration for arming Syrian rebels linked to Salafi jihadism.[188] According to Flynn, the U.S. is "at war with a radical component of Islam".[188] Flynn has been a board member of ACT! for America,[189] and sees the Muslim faith as one of the root causes of Islamist terrorism.[41]

Flynn has described Islam as a political ideology and a cancer.[41][190] He once tweeted that "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL"[189] and included a video link claiming that Islam wants "80% of people enslaved or exterminated".[191] Initially supportive of Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US, Flynn later told Al Jazeera that a blanket ban was unworkable and has called instead for "vetting" of entrants from countries like Syria.[189] Flynn has stated the U.S. "should extradite Fethullah Gülen" to Turkey and "work constructively with Russia" in Syria.[43][192] In 2016, he said that he had personally seen photos of signs in the Southwest border area that were in Arabic to help Muslims entering the United States illegally. An officer of the National Border Patrol Council responded that the organization was not aware of any such signs.[193]


Flynn co-authored a report in January 2010 through the Center for a New American Security, entitled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.[194] That report, which became influential,[195] argued that U.S. intelligence agencies "must open their doors to anyone who is willing to exchange information, including Afghans and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) as well as the US military and its allies".[196]

Flynn is also an author of The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, co-authored with Michael Ledeen, which was published by St. Martin's Press in 2016.[197] In reviewing the book, Will McCants of the Brookings Institution described Flynn's worldview as a confused combination of neoconservatism (an insistence on destroying what he sees as an alliance of tyranny, dictatorships, and radical Islamist regimes) and realism (support for working with "friendly tyrants"), although he acknowledged that this could be due to the book having two authors.[198]

Awards and decorations

Lieutenant General Flynn's decorations, medals and badges include:[7][199]

US Army Airborne master parachutist badge.gif
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Ranger Tab.svg
Other U.S. agency decorations
US Intelligence Community's Gold Seal Medallion[199]

Other awards and recognitions

See also


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Further reading

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Ronald Burgess
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
Succeeded by
David Shedd
Political offices
Preceded by
Susan Rice
National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Keith Kellogg

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