Michael T. Flynn, the retired Army Lt. General who resigned from his position as national security adviser to President Donald Trump, is an outspoken critic of the Obama administration and “radical Islam.”
He is also a father, grandfather, author, and surfing enthusiast.
Flynn’s a lifelong Democrat, although he’s said recently the Democratic Party isn’t the party he once knew. He was at Donald Trump’s side for months during the presidential campaign. The national security adviser post didn’t require the Senate’s confirmation. Flynn resigned on February 13 as questions swirled about his communications with the Russian ambassador the day before the Obama administration imposed sanctions against Russia and before Donald Trump took the oath of office as president. There were also questions about whether he misled Vice President Mike Pence about what he’d said to the ambassador.
The Washington Post, and many other national media outlets, once said that Trump was vetting Flynn, a registered Democrat (according to Stars and Stripes) who has harshly criticized Hillary Clinton, as a possible VP choice for Trump. Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence instead, but he gave Flynn a prime speaking slot on the first night of the Republican National Convention, which was focused on safety issues. Then, he made him national security advisor. At the convention, Flynn wasted no time in going after Clinton:
Here’s what you need to know about him:
1. Flynn Wrote a Book on Defeating ‘Radical Islam’ & Once Said He Was ‘At War With Islam’
In February, Flynn created controversy when he Tweeted: “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” The Huffington Post said he linked “to a video with the same name that lists dozens of terror attacks committed by Muslims in the past decades.” The Daily Beast called Flynn “a brash, candid provocateur who seems more interested in upending whole systems than in fine-tuning them.” The Daily Caller said Flynn had predicted the Islamic State’s growth when he led the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Flynn published a book on July 12 called “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.”
The book’s synopsis on Amazon, says, in part, “A war is being waged against us by radical Islamists, and, as current events demonstrate, they are only getting stronger. This book aims to inform the American people of the grave danger we face in the war on terror―and will continue to face―until our government takes decisive action against the terrorists that want nothing more than to destroy us and our way of life.”
“I’ve been at war with Islam, or a, or a component of Islam, for the last decade,” Flynn once said, according to Al-Jazeera. He’s also trashed Iran, saying, “I could go on and on all day about Iran and their behavior, you know, and their lies, flat out lies, and then their spewing of constant hatred, no matter whenever they talk,” Al-Jazeera said.
He also told Al-Jazeera: “We are at war with a radical component of Islam and the way I believe it is that Islam is a, is a political ideology based on a religion.”
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2. Flynn Was Born in Rhode Island into a Family of Nine & Was an Athlete & Lifeguard
Flynn’s parents, Helen and Charles Flynn, had nine children; one of his brothers, Charlie Flynn, became a colonel who commanded the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq during the surge, The University of Rhode Island said in a 2009 article. By 2011, Charles Flynn was a brigadier general, and his brother, Michael, pinned the star to his uniform, said NewportRI.com.
The brothers’ home town, Middleton, Rhode Island, named that September 6 “Generals Flynn Day.” The Flynns are the “first Rhode Islanders to serve as generals at the same time,” said NewportRI.com.
Flynn recalled sharing bunk beds as a child with Charlie. Their father was also a soldier; he was a veteran of World War II and Korea and a retired Army sergeant first class, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency. In civilian life, Flynn’s father was a “small-town banker.”
“Mike and Charlie were great friends and good athletes,” Helen told the university. She said they both excelled at sports. “Football, basketball, baseball, you name it. They both loved the water. They were lifeguards during the summers at Second Beach and later played water polo at URI. Being from such a large family, I think all the children learned to compete at an early age and gained the self-confidence needed to accomplish what they set out to do.”
Michael Flynn is still athletic; he frequently posts on his Twitter page about surfing. In high school, he was a Lou Reed fan who surfed and skateboarded, according to NewportRI.com.
Helen Flynn’s obituary in Patch says she traveled the world with her husband “and raised their ever-growing military family pitching her ‘tent’ wherever that may have been for 20 years before returning to their hometown in 1963.” She was also from a military family.
The obituary called Flynn’s mother “a woman of honor and faith in God, intellectual curiosity and a voracious reader and writer; a true patriot, a formidable leader and a beloved Mother, who stood tall for what she believed in against the odds and celebrated the achievements of her brood. Her faith was her guide.” She once ran for State Representative in Middletown, Rhode Island and for the U.S. Senate and was a Democrat, said the obit.
At the University of Rhode Island, Flynn studied management science and joined ROTC. He was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant when he graduated from college in 1981, the university says. He also has an MBA and graduated from the U.S. Naval War College, CNN said.
General Michael Flynn has resigned from his position as National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump. Read his resignation letter here.Click here to read more
3. Flynn Married His High School Sweetheart & Likes Cheap Cars & Pizza
Flynn “married his high school sweetheart, Lori Andrade,” said the University of Rhode Island. The Flynns have been married for more than 30 years, and Lori’s Facebook page is filled with pictures of her husband and grandchildren.
The university quoted Flynn as saying: “Lori has been a steady presence in the lives of thousands of soldiers and their families during my numerous deployments and has played the role of not only mom, but dad, coach, teacher, and at times, taxi driver for our two sons, Michael and Matt, as well as for hundreds of other children. She’s always willing to volunteer her time for others.”
Their son, Michael, is now the chief of staff at Flynn Intel Group, according to his Facebook page; his father is CEO of the organization, which says it “provides elite intelligence services and solutions to industry and government worldwide.” Michael, the son, posts statuses about his father’s media appearances, although he sometimes makes political commentary, writing: “Rule of Law officially deteriorating in this country after #ClintonEmails announcement….”
The Flynns’ other son mostly posts pictures on Facebook of music concerts and his family; retired General Flynn is a grandfather and often shares photos with his grandchildren.
The university feature story noted that Flynn “prefers cheap cars and pizza.” He also likes football, especially the New England Patriots.
4. Flynn Was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency & Is a Registered Democrat Who Has Given Different Positions on Abortion
Flynn deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from spring 2012 to fall 2014, The Military Times said. “He has worked as an adviser on Trump’s primary campaign in recent months,” said The Military Times, adding that the retired general has “33 years of intelligence experience.”
The University of Rhode Island says “Mike became an intelligence officer, platoon leader, and then instructor in his early days. Promotions quickly followed.” The Defense Intelligence Agency says its role is to “provide military intelligence to warfighters, defense policymakers and force planners.” It’s been called “The Pentagon’s top spy agency.”
Flynn’s leadership was controversial. He was closely aligned with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was removed by President Obama as leader of military operations in Afghanistan after comments he made to Rolling Stone. Among other things, McChrystal called members of the White House “clowns,” said he was “pretty disappointed” when he met Obama and used crude jokes to refer to Vice President Joe Biden.
On social issues, Flynn told ABC News that he supports a woman’s right to choose, saying: “I think women have to be able to choose…sort of, the right of choice,” said Flynn, adding, “They are the ones that have to make the decision because they’re the ones that are going to decide to bring up that child or not.” However, a short time later, Flynn appeared to change his position on abortion, saying, he was a “pro-life Democrat” and adding: “This pro-choice issue is a legal issue that should be decided by the courts. I believe in law. If people want to change the law, they should vote so that we can appoint pro-life judges. I believe the law should be changed.”
ABC said that he also “veered from the GOP platform” on gay marriage, by commenting: “What people do in their private lives, these are not big issues that our country’s dealing with,” although ABC said he did not comment “directly on marriage.”
NBC News is one of many sites to report that Flynn is a registered Democrat, but quoted him as adding: “I grew up as a Democrat in a very strong Democratic family, but I will tell you that the Democratic Party that exists in this country is not the Democratic Party I grew up around.”
5. Flynn Was ‘Sacked’ By Obama & Has Claimed the Government Concealed the True Nature of the Terrorist Threat from the American People
The word sacked is used in Flynn’s own book introduction. It says: “Flynn has been a firsthand witness to government screw-ups, smokescreens, and censored information that our leaders don’t want us to know. A year before he was scheduled to retire, Flynn was sacked as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency for, among other things, telling a Congressional Committee that the American people are in more danger than we were just a few years ago.”
Stars and Stripes said Flynn “did not leave the Obama administration on warm terms,” adding that, “in 2014, he was effectively forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of a leadership shake-up after clashing with officials over his management style and vision for the agency.”
Flynn explained his firing, according to the New York Post, by saying he “knew then it had more to do with the stand I took on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements. I felt the intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department.”
The book intro argues that the government “has concealed the actions of terrorists like bin Laden and groups like ISIS, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam.”
Flynn has been a harsh critic of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Iraq War. Like Trump, he’s very outspoken on Twitter. He’s already serving as an adviser to Trump, and retweets him on Twitter, CNN said.
He has criticized the decision to invade Iraq, saying that “strategic errors” were made, according to Al-Jazeera. He said the U.S. “totally blew it” by allowing ISIS to take root in Syria and Iraq.
Of the Iraq War, he said: “I think history will not be kind. It was a strategic mistake,” Al-Jazeera said. Flynn created more controversy when he was photographed sitting next to Vladimir Putin in a trip to Russia last December, The Daily Beast said.