Trump's Anti-Muslim National Security Adviser Michael Flynn -- A Fox Favorite -- Is Rife With Conflicts Of Interest 

››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn, a Fox News favorite with conflicts of interest in Russia and Turkey, has frequently appeared on the network to push his anti-Islam views, has lauded Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has made repeated appearances on Russian state television. 

Flynn Reportedly Named National Security Adviser

Trump Reported To Have Tapped Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn For National Security Adviser. Citing senior officials from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, ABC News reported that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will be Trump’s pick for national security adviser. In the role, Flynn would consult with Trump on national security matters and sit on the National Security Council with Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and the secretaries of state, defense, energy, and other officials to shape “military and foreign policy efforts.” From a November 18 ABC News article:

President-elect Donald Trump has named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser, according to senior Trump transition officials, rewarding one of his campaign’s most prominent allies with a major role as he seeks to fulfill his promise to better protect the country.

In the role, Flynn will consult with Trump on protecting the country’s citizens, key infrastructure and resources and sit on the National Security Council with Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the incoming secretaries of state, defense and energy, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and other key officials.

[...]

The selection of Flynn is the third major appointment made by Trump since last week’s election. On Sunday he named Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus his chief of staff and former Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon his chief strategist and senior counselor.

The position Flynn will fill is not subject to Senate confirmation. Flynn replaces Susan Rice who has served as President Obama’s National Security Adviser since July 2013. [ABC News, 11/18/16]

Flynn Became A Prominent Potential Adviser For Republican Presidential Candidates Through Frequent Appearances On Fox

Politico Magazine: “[Flynn’s] Regular Appearances On Fox News Led … Five Republican Presidential Candidates To Reach Out.” In an October 16 profile, Politico Magazine’s James Kitfield noted that Flynn didn’t “run immediately to Trump” after he retired, but instead made “regular appearances on Fox News,” which resulted in at least five GOP presidential candidates reaching out to the former military official for advice. Kitfield wrote that it wasn’t until the end of the primaries that Flynn was “standing prominently alongside [Trump.]”:

After his retirement, Flynn didn’t run immediately to Trump. His regular appearances on Fox News led no fewer than five Republican presidential candidates to reach out for advice—Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz and Trump. An op-ed he co-wrote with Fiorina gave him the idea for his new book, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.” But by the end of the primaries, Trump was the last Republican standing, and Flynn was standing prominently alongside him.

“If someone had asked me five years ago if I would be surprised to find myself where I’m standing today, absolutely I would have been surprised,” Flynn conceded. [Politico Magazine, 10/16/16]

Flynn: “Political Correctness Kills” Because We Accept “Refugees From Places We Don’t Really Understand.” On Fox’s morning show, Fox & Friends, Flynn stated that “political correctness kills” because of “the policies that we have for accepting refugees from places that we don't really understand.” From the September 19 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

MICHAEL FLYNN: Political correctness kills. It will cause death and we can't have that, and Donald Trump is right. The only -- I would be a little bit more precise, instead of these people are pouring in. They are actually being poured in by the White House and by the policies that we have for accepting refugees from places that we don't really understand, from people that we really can't vet in a way that we can understand what's happening and they are not assimilating in these various communities that we are pouring them into. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/16]

Flynn: We Need “The Right Kind Of Rules Of Engagement … Within Our Law Enforcement Community” To “Be Able To Go Into [Muslim] Communities.” On Fox & Friends, Flynn exploited the September 17 attacks in New York City and stabbing spree in Minnesota to call for “the right kind of rules of engagement” to “go into” Muslim communities, adding that “this whole notion of Islamophobia, that is absolute nonsense.” From the September 19 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

MICHAEL FLYNN: Was this guy on our radar prior to this? And do we have the right kind of rules of engagement, if you will, within the homeland, within our law enforcement community, to be able to go into these communities? And frankly this whole notion of Islamophobia, that is absolute nonsense. This is about securing our nation. This is about making the people feel safe on the streets of New York or wherever they are around this country. You know you were just highlighting, we were talking about three states and the likelihood of having more attacks in this country will continue until we get very, very serious about this.

[...]

FLYNN: Their narrative is attack where we live. That’s what they just put out a couple of days ago, attack where we live. Where the enemy lives, that’s us. Whether it's in Europe, or whether it's in New York City or whether it's in Minnesota. They put that word out, these various individuals are following this on the internet. They are following it in their own communities. This is not about Islamophobia, this is not about racism. This is about securing our nation in a time that we have a vastly different enemy that we are facing. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/16]

On Fox, Flynn Agreed That The Only Generals Who Stuck With Obama Were People Who Would Say “Yes.” Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Flynn if it was “fair” and “accurate” to say the only generals who stayed in the Obama administration “were the people that would say yes.” Flynn agreed, adding that Trump “has enormous respect for our military” and that “disasters” like Libya “can be solely placed on Hillary Clinton.” From the September 7 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): But when they said -- when he talked about the generals, my interpretation was -- tell me if I'm wrong, is that the generals have not been given the ability to do their job and the only generals that stuck around were the people that would say yes. Is that true, is that fair? Is that inaccurate?

MICHAEL FLYNN: Yeah, it's -- Donald Trump has enormous respect for our military, has enormous respect for the leaders that we have in our military that are serving today. What he knows is that the decisions that have been made, the incredibly poor judgment on decisions to pull out of Iraq that led to the rise of ISIS -- I mean, we really haven't talked about Libya. The decision to go into Libya was almost -- can be solely placed on Hillary Clinton, and Libya is a disaster. [Media Matters, 9/7/16]

On Fox, Flynn Defended Stop And Frisk As A “Constitutionally Correct Policy.” During the September 27 edition of Fox’s Hannity, Flynn defended the “stop-and-frisk” police policy as a “constitutionally correct policy” that has resulted in “a lot of lives not being lost”:

MICHAEL FLYNN: The business about racism and really talking about, you know, stop and frisk. I mean, they were so wrong on those issues. And those are the kinds of things that the American public will hear more and more about this week.

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): And Lester Holt himself was wrong about stop and frisk.

FLYNN: Yeah, he was totally wrong.

HANNITY: He was wrong about Iraq, he was wrong about the economy. He got everything wrong

FLYNN: That policy, Sean, that stop-and-frisk policy is a constitutionally correct policy, and it has led to -- I mean, it has led to a lot of lives not being lost. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/27/16]

On Fox, Flynn Slammed Obama For Talking About Climate Change After Paris Attacks. During the June 29 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, Flynn slammed President Obama for talking about climate change in a summit in Canada when “we just had the largest terror attack … on our own soil in Orlando.” Fox’s Megyn Kelly responded that this was part of the “normalization of homegrown domestic terror”:

MICHAEL FLYNN: Yes. I mean, come on! Are you kidding me? So we have to put up with this nonsense? No, we do not have to put up with this nonsense. The first thing that we have to do is we have to destroy what I would call the jihadist or the soldiers of this effort and we have to capture and kill their leadership. That can be done and that is done sort of locally in the Middle East and other parts of the Arab world. The Muslim, the radicalized Islamic world. The second thing, and actually, I still believe it's most important is we must discredit this ideology. Now, we also have to then warn, put out a warning to all of the nations around the world that are supporting these guys. And give them fair warning. You either support them or we're going to come in and get them from you. I mean, this is a very dramatic effort that we are going to have to put up with and I can't -- I'm not going to sit here and tell you that this is not going to be cheap and this is not going to come without violence. It is. But when we start -- when we continue to see the level of fear that's being increased, the level of cost that's being increased by these guys, I mean, the international community cannot stand for this type of behavior on an international stage like we have seen again and again and again. And here we have the President of the United States up in Canada talking about climate change. I mean, God, we just had the largest attack, as you just said, on our own soil in Orlando. Why are we talking about that? Who is talking about that? You know, I mean, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Boston. People forget about 9/11. I mean, and this is not about guns. They used planes, they used suicide bombs in Turkey, they used, you know, cylinders in Boston. So, we have a responsibility and we have to rebuild the trust between the American public and our federal government and our federal government has got to get its act together to go after these guys.

MEGYN KELLY (CO-HOST): The normalization of this sort of homegrown domestic terror, if you will, is downright disturbing. General, I got to run. Great to see you as always. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 6/29/16. Accessed On Nexis]

Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle: It “Doesn’t Get Much Stronger Than Lt. Gen Mike Flynn … Dropping The Hammer” On Clinton During Convention Speech. On The July 19 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle praised Mike Flynn’s speech during the Republican National Convention, saying it “doesn’t get much stronger” than Flynn “dropping the hammer” on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton:

ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): Bring it around, KG. Pretty impressive speeches last night.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: Yeah, very impressive, very strong. I mean, it doesn't get much stronger than Lt. Gen. Flynn coming out and just like dropping the hammer on her. [Fox News, The Five, 7/19/16]

Fox’s Newt Gingrich: Flynn Will Help Trump Appoint “Good” People To His Muslim Commission. On the August 19 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich defended Trump’s plan to create a commission to deal with “radical Islamists.” Gingrich specifically lauded Flynn, who he claimed would help Trump pick “good people” for the commission.

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): What do you think of his idea for a commission on studying and coming up with strategies and tactics to deal with radical Islamists?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well it will depend, first of all, on who you appoint, because if you pick someone from the Muslim Brotherhood, the commission will be destructive. But given the people, like General Flynn, who Trump is relying on, I think they would pick good people. I thought the commission was a brilliant idea. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/19/16]

Fox’s Dana Perino: “I Admire Michael Flynn For Going On Al Jazeera” English. During the November 16, 2015, edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Dana Perino praised Flynn, saying, “I admire Michael Flynn for going on Al Jazeera because” now the country “is talking more and not less”:

ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): So Dana, can I talk to you a little about that press conference today? The questions asked by a lot of liberal media types, they weren't happy with President Obama today.

DANA PERINO (CO-HOST): Well, reported -- they were asking him tough questions, which is what you would expect in a press conference. And I think the president -- he came to a fork in the road and he could have said, "OK, here, I'm going to be the leader of the free world, or I'm going to just defend my self- interest," which is what he decided to do, and that built upon each other. And so then the reporters continued to press him on that and then he got more defensive. So the more he gets defensive, the more it looks like he's confuse. I admire Michael Flynn for going on Al Jazeera because we need because we are talking more and not less. And the other thing I would say about what he -- Flynn is describing on a point of confusion is that, there has been a divide is weird thing going on between the Intel community and the DOD and White House. And there's -- it's like they're not talking to each other. If you look at the John Brennan SOT, the sound bite that we played going into the previous break, he is being very clear-eyed about things, and the president is saying, our strategy is working. You have somebody who used to be at the (inaudible) center saying, I'm confused. So if he's confused, you can bet that our allies are confused. There's one group that is not confused, and that is our enemy. They're very clear about what they want to accomplish. [Fox News, The Five, 11/16/15, accessed On Nexis]

Flynn Has International Conflicts Of Interest

Politico: Flynn Reportedly Lobbied For Group That Profits From Contracts With Turkish Government, Possibly Violating Federal Law. According to Politico, Flynn “runs a consulting firm that is lobbying for Turkish interests” and “is being paid by a close ally of Turkey's president.” One of Flynn Intel Group’s clients, the Dutch consulting firm Inovo BV, was founded by the chairman of “an arm of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey.” When questioned, both Flynn Intel Group and Inovo BV denied any lobbying relationship with the Turkish government:

Donald Trump wants to forbid his officials from lobbying for foreign governments, but one of his top national security advisers is being paid by a close ally of Turkey's president.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a vice chair of the Trump transition who is in the running for a top national security post in the new administration, runs a consulting firm that is lobbying for Turkish interests, an associate told POLITICO. Asked if Flynn's firm was hired because of the general's closeness to Trump, the associate, Robert Kelley, said, "I hope so."

Kelley told POLITICO that the client, a Dutch consulting firm called Inovo BV, was founded by Kamil Ekim Alptekin. Alptekin is chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council, known as TAIK, an arm of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey, whose members are chosen by the country's general assembly and economic minister. In that role, Alptekin was involved in organizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington earlier this year.

[...]

"Flynn Intel Group has no commercial relationship with the government of Turkey and Lt. General Michael Flynn's public statements on foreign affairs and national security issues are entirely his own," Kelley said in a subsequent statement.

"I am concerned about the future of the transatlantic relationship," Alptekin said in an email. "I have absolutely no affiliation with the policies of the Turkish government." [Politico, 11/14/16]

Daily Beast: Flynn Attended A Gala With Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hosted By Russian State Television. According to a March 9 Daily Beast article, Flynn flew to Moscow in December 2015 for a “formal dinner” and was filmed sitting next to Russian President Putin. A spokesperson for the Defense Intelligence Agency said Flynn “had given the proper notices,” but another senior defense official claimed “word of Flynn’s travel didn’t reach the office of Defense Secretary Ash Carter” and that the Pentagon was “taken by surprise”:

Flynn is not an ordinary adviser. His position as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency gave him top-level access to the inner workings of U.S. military operations and spycraft. A spokesperson for the agency told The Daily Beast that Flynn continues to hold a security clearance and has received briefings from the Defense Department that contain classified information.

Three former U.S. officials said that a trip Flynn took last December to Moscow—where he was filmed sitting at the head table next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a formal dinner—set off alarms within military and intelligence circles over whether Flynn had notified the U.S. government about his foreign travel, as his security clearance requires.

The Defense Intelligence Agency spokesman said that Flynn had given the proper notices. But a current senior defense official said that word of Flynn’s travel didn’t reach the office of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and that Pentagon brass were taken by surprise that he didn’t notify the department.

That he would be working with the Trump campaign or pushing for better U.S.-Russian relations, even as the two nations are battling each other on the behalf of proxy forces in Syria, was less surprising, the official said.

“He’s always been a bit of a wild card,” he concluded.

[...]

The timing of Flynn’s visit was notable. Seven days after his remarks, Putin praised Trump as “an outstanding and talented personality.” [The Daily Beast, 3/9/16]

Politico Magazine: Flynn Made Frequent Appearances On Russian State Media As An “Analyst.” According to Politico Magazine, after his departure from the Obama administration, Flynn made “semi-regular” appearances on the Russian network RT (formerly known as Russia Today) as an “analyst,” during which “he often argues that the U.S. and Russia should be working more closely together on issues like fighting ISIL and ending Syria’s civil war.” From a May/June Politico Magazine article:

Flynn now makes semi-regular appearances on RT as an analyst, in which he often argues that the U.S. and Russia should be working more closely together on issues like fighting ISIL and ending Syria’s civil war. “Russia has its own national security strategy, and we have to respect that,” he said in one recent appearance. “And we have to try to figure out: How do we combine the United States’ national security strategy along with Russia’s national security strategy, despite all the challenges that we face?” [Politico Magazine, May/June 2016]

Flynn Has Praised Putin And Compared CNN And MSNBC To Russian State-Run Media

Politico Magazine: Flynn Praised Putin As “Smart And Savvy.” Politico Magazine reported that while Flynn thinks Trump may have “overstated” his praise of Putin, Flynn has also called the Russian president “smart and savvy” in his dealings with the United States and NATO. From an October 16 Politico Magazine article:

Flynn’s perception of an expanding and evil ideology of Islamist extremism aligns with Trump’s dystopian view. Yet at times Flynn still struggles to reconcile his views with some of Trump’s most extreme positions, including his persistent praise of Putin.

“Putin is a totalitarian dictator and a thug who does not have our interests in mind. So I think Trump calling him a strong leader has been overstated, I’ll give you that,” Flynn said. “But Putin is smart and savvy, and he has taken actions in Ukraine and elsewhere that have limited our options, and the U.S. and NATO response has been timid. I think Trump’s strength lies in being a master negotiator, and he wants as many options as possible in dealing with Russia.” (Still, Flynn himself may have image problems here, since he appeared with Putin last year at an anniversary party for the Kremlin-controlled RT television network in Moscow.) [Politico Magazine, 10/16/16]

Wash. Post: Flynn Compared CNN And MSNBC To Russian State-Run Television. During an interview Washington Post reporter Dana Priest asked Flynn about his decision to go on Russian state-run television, which Flynn then compared to CNN. When Priest pointed out CNN is “not run by the state,” Flynn responded, “Well, what’s MSNBC? I mean, come on.” From the August 15 Washington Post interview:

[DANA] PRIEST: Why would you go on RT, they’re state run?

[MICHAEL] FLYNN: Well, what’s CNN?

PRIEST: Well, it’s not run by the state. You’re rolling your eyes.

FLYNN: Well, what’s MSNBC? I mean, come on … what’s Al Jazeera? What’s Sky News Arabia? I have been asked by multiple organizations to be a [paid] contributor but I don’t want to be. [The Washington Post, 8/15/16]

Flynn Refused To Rule Out Waterboarding, Killing Family Members Of Suspected Terrorists

Huff. Post: Flynn Declined To Dounce Waterboarding As An Interrogation Technique. After then-candidate Trump promised to bring back waterboarding as an interrogation technique, Flynn refused to denounce the torture technique, according to a May 19 Huffington Post article. He instead said he is “a believer in leaving as many options on the table right up until the last possible minute.” [The Huffington Post, 5/19/16]

Al Jazeera: Flynn Refused To Denounce Killing Family Members Of Suspected Terrorists. When questioned about Trump’s proposal to “kill the families of suspected terrorists,” Flynn refused to denounce it, instead saying: “I would have to see the circumstances of that situation. These are very difficult political decisions.” From a May 19 Al Jazeera article:

In a special web extra, General Michael Flynn, former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under President Barack Obama, discusses his informal role as an adviser to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

When asked if he supports Trump's proposal to kill the families of suspected terrorists, Flynn tells Mehdi Hasan: "I would have to see the circumstances of that situation."

"These are very difficult political decisions," he adds. [Al Jazeera, 5/19/16]

Flynn Has A History Of Making Anti-Muslim Statements

Flynn: “Fear Of Muslims Is RATIONAL.” In February 26 tweet, Flynn wrote that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” linking to a to a video whose description calls Islamophobia “an OXYMORON since having a Phobia means having an IRRATIONAL FEAR”:

[Twitter.com, 2/26/16]

Huff. Post: Flynn Defended Trump’s Proposed Ban On Muslim Immigration. Al Jazeera English’s UpFront host Mehdi Hasan asked Flynn if he supports Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, to which Flynn replied “yes,” adding, “I support the vetting of individuals and the proper screening of individuals who are coming from certain parts of the world like Syria.” From a May 19 Huffington Post article:

Former Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn expressed his support for Donald Trump’s extreme national security positions in an interview released Thursday — including a ban on Muslim entry.

But the informal advisor to Trump’s campaign, who headed the Pentagon intelligence agency under the Obama administration until 2014, strained to define those proposals more liberally than the presumptive GOP presidential candidate ever has.

Asked by Mehdi Hasan, host of Al Jazeera English’s “UpFront,” if he supports the Muslim entry ban, Flynn responded, “Yes.”

He then went on, however, to describe a far narrower policy than the blanket prohibition Trump has proposed.

“I support the vetting of individuals and the proper screening of individuals who are coming from certain parts of the world like Syria,” Flynn told Hasan. [The Huffington Post, 5/19/16]

Flynn Sits On The Board Of Anti-Muslim Organization ACT For America. Flynn was hired this year as an advisor for the board of ACT For America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “anti-refugee” and “anti-Muslim.” Created in the wake of 9/11, ACT has said refugees “ try to suck off the people from the west” and claimed they are trying to “get free checks from you and me”:

Flynn is a retired lieutenant general who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014. More recently, Flynn has served as an advisor to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and was recently hired by ACT to serve as an advisor for the organization’s board. When Flynn is not advising ACT or Trump, he has been on a nationwide speaking tour to promote his new book, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies with the help of ACT, whose local chapters have organized many of Flynn’s stops. During one appearance in Dallas, Flynn likened Islam to a cancer, claiming that documents recovered from terrorist organizations instruct followers to "get into the bloodstream of the opposition," which Flynn said means to attack Western nations. Flynn, like Trump has also used his Twitter account to tweet anti-Semitic material. In July, Flynn retweeted an anti-Hillary Clinton message that included the anti-Semitic remark, “Cnn implicated. ‘The USSR is to blame!’ … Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 9/1/16, Southern Poverty Law Center, Accessed 11/18/16]

Dallas Morning News: Flynn Called Islam A “Political Ideology” That “Hides Behind Being A Religion” And Likened It To A Cancer. In his book How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, Flynn claimed that Islam is a political ideology that “definitely hides behind being a religion.” During an event for ACT For America in Dallas, Flynn gave an hourlong speech in which he compared Islam to “a cancer.” From a August 10 Dallas Morning News article:

The contents of Flynn's book, How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, was a main topic of discussion. He took special interest in discussing what he called the dangers of Shariah law in Texas.

"Islam is a political ideology," Flynn said. "It definitely hides behind being a religion."

Flynn said that earlier in the day he met with Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, who has been a polarizing figure in the public debate over Islam and the treatment of Muslims since rumors of an illegal Shariah court at the Irving Islamic Center began spreading in 2015.

"Beth is incredibly brave," Flynn said. "Vote for her for anything."

He likened Islam, a religion with 1.6 billion adherents worldwide, to "a cancer" and said that documents recovered from terrorist organizations instruct followers to "get into the bloodstream of the opposition," which Flynn said means to attack Western nations.

Flynn described himself as a scholar of American history and of religion. He said he had focused many years of study on the influence of religion on the Founding Fathers.

"This Islamic ideology was something they wanted nothing to do with," he said. [The Dallas Morning News, 8/10/16]

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