Flynn, a former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, shockingly appeared to support a military coup in the United States during a Sunday keynote address
to a Dallas conference
organized by supporters of QAnon conspiracy theories.
To the extent that QAnon has a coherent worldview, it is that Trump will be returned to the White House
following a military coup, similar to the one that happened in Myanmar
An audience member at the Dallas event asked Flynn: “I want to know why what happened in Minamar (sic) can’t happen here?” The audience raucously cheered this question. Flynn replied, “No reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason. That’s right.” Again, the audience cheered heartily.
Those who served with Flynn in Afghanistan and Iraq are mystified why he has now embraced a QAnon worldview. But you don’t have to be a veteran to know it is a danger for the republic for a senior, retired officer to be undermining democracy in this fashion.
Flynn is also playing with fire on a personal level. As a retired flag officer, he is subject
to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Article 94
of the code says that active duty and retired Armed Force members engaged in acts of sedition can face the death penalty.
On Monday, Flynn seemed to be trying to dial back, saying on social media that he doesn’t support
a military coup. Yet Flynn’s comments were made on video, which can be seen here
by anyone who wants to judge Flynn’s response for themselves.
And Flynn has more than flirted with such ideas before. After Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, Flynn told a host on the conservative Newsmax channel that Trump “could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election
in each of those states.” Flynn added for good measure, “I mean, it’s not unprecedented. These people are out there talking about martial law like it’s something that we’ve never done. Martial law has been instituted 64 times.” (Then, as now, he seemed to back away from what he’d just said, stating “I’m not calling for that. We have a constitutional process,” and “that has to be followed.”)
Flynn and his lawyer Sidney Powell also participated in a White House meeting
in mid-December with Trump in which they discussed how they might reverse the purportedly “rigged” presidential election, which Biden had won by large margins both in the electoral college vote and in the popular vote. And state and federal courts around the country dismissed dozens of cases
challenging Biden’s win.
Flynn’s recent musings about coups, martial law and overturning legitimate presidential elections are all a very long way from the period after 9/11, when he served in the elite Joint Special Operations Command as a highly regarded intelligence officer
in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Flynn was so well thought of that he was eventually promoted to lieutenant general and to run the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), but Flynn’s overseers in the Obama administration thought he was an ineffective manager of DIA, a large agency with 17,000 employees, and in 2014 he was pushed out
of his post.
Flynn seemed embittered by his dismissal and a year later he was on the campaign trail with then-candidate Trump, with whom he shared similar views about the purported menace posed by Muslims. During the campaign, Trump said
he had seen thousands of Arabs in New Jersey cheering the 9/11 attacks, while Flynn said
that Democratic legislators in Florida were planning to install Sharia law. These claims were, of course, false.
After Trump won the presidency in 2016, he appointed Flynn his national security adviser, a post in which he served for the record briefest amount of time; only 24 days.
Flynn was fired for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the content of conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI
about the same issue.
Trump pardoned Flynn,
but the eradication of his conviction doesn’t seem to have impacted Flynn’s continuing lack of good judgment: Calling for the overturning of a legitimate presidential election; floating the imposition of martial law and appearing to approve of a coup in the United States.
Like so many who have entered into Trump’s orbit, Flynn’s once-sterling reputation is ever more seriously damaged.