Michael Flynn is a retired lieutenant general, right-wing political advisor, and key Trump ally who promoted ideas about declaring martial law and using military intervention to keep the ex-president in the White House after the 2020 election had been called for Biden.
During more than 30 years in the Army, Flynn served as a lieutenant general and as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the Obama administration. He was forced out of the DIA after a tumultuous two years in which he allegedly clashed with his colleagues and superiors over policy and management styles. In leaked emails, the late Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served under President George W. Bush, described Flynn as “abusive with staff” and “right-wing nutty.”
After his tenure at the DIA, Flynn went on to work as a consultant through the Flynn Intel Group, where he developed ties with the Turkish government and its authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In 2016, as an advisor to the Trump campaign, Flynn posted Islamophobic and antisemitic comments on Twitter, and led chants of “lock her up” during speeches attacking Trump’s opponent in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton. Once in office, Trump nominated Flynn to be his national security adviser, but he resigned after only 25 days amid an FBI investigation into his interactions with Russian officials. Flynn went on to become a proponent of the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but was pardoned by Trump in November 2020—while the lieutenant general was holed up with a team of other extremists strategizing about how overturn the 2020 election and prevent Biden from taking office.
January 6, 2021
- According to The New York Times, Flynn repeatedly met with Phil Waldron, a Texas bar owner and retired colonel who served with him in the military, in the weeks leading up to the Electoral College certification vote to develop an intervention plan. Waldron circulated a PowerPoint presentation to key figures in Trump’s orbit called “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” that included the proposal to have U.S. marshals “secure” ballots in some states and Vice President Pence reject electors from swing states that went for Biden.
- Flynn promoted Jericho March, a right-wing Christian organization that was founded to contest the presidential election results, and urged its members to attend the Save America rally that escalated into a violent mob attack on the Capitol.
- At a Jan. 5 rally in Washington, Flynn told the crowd that Trump had won the election and repeated the lie that hundreds of thousands of “dead people” had voted in the 2020 election.
- On Nov. 8, 2021, the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol issued a subpoena to Flynn for documents, phone records, and testimony relating to the day’s events. In response, Flynn sued the committee to block the subpoena.
- Once Flynn finally did appear before the House Select Committee in March 2022, he pleaded the Fifth, asserting his right against self-incrimination just like other key Trump allies John Eastman, Alex Jones, and Roger Stone.
The Big Lie
- According to election denier and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, it was Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, who brought Flynn into the group of Trump allies attempting to overturn the election. In the weeks following the election, the three of them and Rudy Giuliani were among those who secretly convened to cook up plans either at the Trump Hotel—their “command bunker” in D.C.—or at right-wing attorney L. Lin Wood’s plantation estate in South Carolina.
- On Nov. 28, 2020, Flynn appeared on the right-wing Christian outlet Worldview Weekend Broadcast Network to reject the outcome of the election, calling it “probably the greatest fraud that our country has ever experienced in our history.”
- On Dec. 18, 2020, Flynn, Byrne, Powell, and someone The New York Times described as “a legal associate” made an appearance at the White House, where they appealed to Trump directly. According to reporting by Axios, the meeting devolved into a shouting match, with Powell, Flynn, and Byrne proposing Trump take more radical steps while his official White House advisors pushed back against resorting to illegal and outrageous measures.
- On Dec. 28, 2020, Flynn appeared on the pro-Trump outlet Newsmax, where he proposed the president use the military to seize voting machines and mentioned the possibility of invoking martial law. “The president has to plan for every eventuality because we cannot allow this election and the integrity of our election to go the way it is,” Flynn said.
- According to The New York Times, Flynn met with Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the company Arizona Republicans later hired to audit the election in Maricopa County.
- Flynn’s 501(c)(3), America’s Future, reportedly donated more than $976,000 to the Cyber Ninjas audit.
Post-2020 Election Subversion
- Flynn has endorsed a number of pro-Trump election deniers as candidates for state office who, if successful, would play a role in potentially subverting election outcomes in their states. These include Mark Finchem (R) for secretary of state in Arizona; Doug Mastriano (R) for governor of Pennsylvania; and Kristina Karamo (R) for secretary of state in Michigan.