Michael Flynn, the controversial former National Security Advisor for President Trump, comes from an accomplished family that produced another general. He’s the married father of two and also a grandfathe, and his siblings have spoken out in his behalf.
One of Flynn’s family members – his namesake son Michael G. Flynn – has also been under scrutiny. On November 5, 2017, NBC News reported, through sources, that special prosecutor Robert Mueller has gathered enough evidence to charge Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion. Mueller has not confirmed this information.
Some of Michael T. Flynn’s siblings set up a legal defense fund for him. “The various investigations arising out of the 2016 presidential election have placed a tremendous financial burden on our brother Mike and his family. The enormous expense of attorneys’ fees and other related expenses far exceed their ability to pay,” Flynn’s siblings, Joe Flynn and Barbara Redgate, said in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Michael Flynn & His High School Sweetheart, Lori Andrade, Have Been Married for Decades
Michael Flynn’s marriage has endured for decades. 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. Michael Flynn tweeted that he and his wife were thankful for his siblings’ support, writing: “Lori and I are very grateful to my brother Joe and sister Barbara for creating a fund to help pay my legal defense costs.”
Both Flynn and Lori hail from Middletown, Rhode Island. “Flynn and his wife, Lori, who started dating as high school sophomores, grew up here and have deep family ties in the area,” reported CBS News.
Lori was described as “a pretty girl who played intramural and powder puff sports, was involved in homecoming activities, counted Peter Frampton as her favorite singer, and although she may not have recognized it then, possessed the uncommon temperament to someday be a soldier’s wife,” reported the Providence Journal. “Mike and Lori were established as sweethearts by senior year, when Mike played varsity football, at defensive guard and linebacker.”
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.”
According to USA Today, Michael and Lori returned to Flynn’s hometown in Rhode Island as controversy swirled. “In recent months, Michael and Lori Flynn have returned to their local haunts. You can find them with Flynn’s brothers and their friends playing rounds of golf at nearby Montaup Country Club or taking in an occasional dinner at 22 Bowen’s, a steakhouse on the wharf in Newport,” the newspaper reported.
2. Michael Flynn’s Son, Also Named Michael, Was CEO of His Organization
Flynn’s son, Michael, was the chief of staff at Flynn Intel Group, according to his Facebook page; his father was CEO of the organization, which says it “provides elite intelligence services and solutions to industry and government worldwide.” Michael, the son, posted statuses about his father’s media appearances, and he sometimes made political commentary, such as once writing: “Rule of Law officially deteriorating in this country after #ClintonEmails announcement….”
Flynn Jr. fought back against critics after the NBC News report, writing on Twitter, “The SJW are out in full this morning….the disappointment on your faces when I don’t go to jail will be worth all your harassment…” According to USA Today, Michael Flynn Jr. “was dismissed from President Trump’s transition team for his promotion of a baseless conspiracy theory that a popular Washington, D.C., pizza parlor had become a front for a sex trafficking ring linked to the Clintons.”
NBC reported that Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, “who worked closely with his father, accompanied him during the campaign and briefly worked on the presidential transition, could be indicted separately or at the same time as his father” and alleged that “if the elder Flynn is willing to cooperate with investigators in order to help his son, two of the sources said, it could also change his own fate, potentially limiting any legal consequences.”
The Flynns’ other son appears less involved in politics and controversy. He mostly posts pictures on Facebook of music concerts and his family; retired General Flynn is a grandfather and often shares photos with his grandchildren.
3. Flynn’s Brother, Charlie, Is Also a Military General
One of Michael Flynn’s 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. According to Politico, the Flynn patriarch was pleased when Michael and Charlie wanted to join the military.
“When Mike and later his brother Charlie told their father that they, too, were joining the Army, he didn’t hide his pleasure at the news. Francis Flynn told his sons, both of whom would improbably rise to the rank of general, ‘the name of ‘soldier’ is the proudest name anyone can bear,’” the site reported.
4. Michael Flynn Was Born in Rhode Island Into a Military Family of Nine
Flynn’s parents, Helen and Charles Flynn, had nine children. 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.
According to CBS News, “Flynn was Middletown High School’s student body president, co-captain of the football team and voted ‘best looking’ in his high school yearbook.”
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.
5. Flynn’s Other Brothers Have Spoken Out in His Behalf
Some of Flynn’s family members have been vigorous in their support of him. Jack Flynn told USA Today that the controversy around Michael Flynn was “a political assassination — a bunch of bulls—t.” Jack Flynn also told the Providence Journal of his brother: “He’s taking care of himself. He’s a soldier guy, soldiering on.”
“I think that everybody is worried about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., but this is home,” added William Flynn, the eldest brother, of how Michael Flynn is perceived back home in Rhode Island. “We grew up here, we know a lot of people and they know the family– like any other family– has problems. Most of them just happen to feel that Michael is a solid citizen.”
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.
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 also left his job as National Security Adviser when he was accused of misleading Vice Presidence Michael Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.