A week after Michael Flynn secured a full pardon from President Donald Trump, the ex-national security adviser is under fire for sharing a call for his former boss to "immediately declare a limited form of martial law, and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections, for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote."
Trump, who continues to baselessly claim that his loss to President-elect Joe Biden was the result of a "rigged election" and file lawsuits challenging the results, pardoned Flynn last week—even though Flynn, who was a senior adviser to Trump's first presidential campaign before briefly joining his administration, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Flynn took to Twitter late Tuesday to share a press release from the Ohio nonprofit We The People Convention (WTPC), which bought a full-page ad in the Washington Times urging Trump to invoke martial law to hold a new election "when the legislators, courts and/or Congress fail to do their duty under the 12th Amendment" of the Constitution, which details the procedure for electing the president and vice president.
The retired lieutenant general tweeted a link to WTPC's press release, which includes the full text of the ad, along with #WeThePeople, various accounts of Trump allies and attorneys, and the message: "Freedom never kneels except for God."
Flynn just got a pardon from Trump. Now he's calling on Trump to "declare limited Martial Law to temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections in order to have the military implement a national re-vote" to stay in office. https://t.co/0mcUJKShte
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) December 2, 2020
"In the months following the start of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln struggled to preserve the Union. Many objected to Lincoln's extraordinary use of presidential authority, in particular his suspension of the right of 'Habeas Corpus,'" the WTPC ad says in part.
The ad claims that "today, the current threat to our United States by the international and domestic socialist/communist left is much more serious than anything Lincoln or our nation has faced in its history—including the civil war."
In addition to fearmongering about supposed "well-funded, armed, and trained marxists" in ANTIFA and the Black Lives Matter movement, the ad says:
[T]here are admitted Democrat/Socialist federal officials plotting to finish gutting the U.S. Constitution after 100 years of trying. They promise to take away critical individual rights like free speech, religious freedom, and the 2nd Amendment; destroy states rights by eliminating the Electoral College and more; pack the Supreme Court with activist anti-constitutionalist judges who will make law from the bench; give the right to vote to tens of millions of non-Americans; and open our borders to more illegals which will reduce wages...
You must also act, like Lincoln did, to silence the destructive media's one-sided propaganda designed and proven to influence the election outcome, and end the unlawful censorship of Big Tech, to restore the confidence of the American People in our electoral process or we cannot continue as a nation. Failure to do so could result in massive violence and destruction on a level not seen since the Civil War. Limited martial law is clearly a better option than civil war!
"Many will object to these actions, as they did in Lincoln's day, but we assure you that We the People understand that no less action will suffice to prevent the loss of our constitutional right to vote and preserve our republic," the ad continues with its directive to Trump. "It is time for you to boldly act to save our nation as Lincoln did."
“Flynn's anti-election propaganda is an essential precursor to violent terrorist attacks on legitimate electoral outcomes,” retired Col. Paul Yingling told The Daily Beast. “When the bombs go off, the blood is on Mike Flynn's hands.”https://t.co/XKMIsggiz9
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) December 2, 2020
The ad ran as even Trump-enabler and appointee U.S. Attorney General William Barr admitted that, despite claims from the president and his supporters, there is no evidence of voter fraud that would alter the outcome of the election. As Newsweek noted Wednesday while reporting on Flynn's apparent endorsement of WTPC's ad:
Trump plus some of his allies and supporters have spread the conspiracy theory regardless.
QAnon followers, online extremists, and fringe groups like WTPC have proved fertile ground for the baseless claims of electoral fraud, helping create an alternative narrative in conservative media and on social media that experts have warned could encourage real-life violence.
Talk of martial law, armed resistance to stop the supposed anti-Trump "coup," and calls for a second Civil War are common on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Parler.
Esquire politics editor Jack Holmes responded to Flynn calling for martial law by arguing that the move undermines suggestions from political commentators that "although Donald Trump's brazen and pathetic post-election behavior is corrosive to democracy, it does not technically count as a coup attempt."
After picking out lines from the ad, Holmes concluded: "Wow! Sounds a bit like a coup."
The Savvy Observers telling everyone to calm down about the president's Stupid Coup suffer from a failure of imagination. https://t.co/XzbKWmtzUm
— Jack Holmes (@jackholmes0) December 2, 2020
"Meanwhile, those preaching calm over the last few weeks have not merely ignored the guiding principles of the Trump era: never assume there is a bottom to the shameless depravity, and never bet against that shamelessness being rewarded," he continued. "The increasingly deranged conspiracies propping up Trump's tantrum have had the desired effect: millions of the Republican rank-and-file do not believe Biden's (fairly decisive) win was legitimate."
"If members of the armed forces do not take things into their own hands, which they almost certainly will not, we can only hope no one else will attempt to do so," Holmes added. "Because, again: millions of people believe this stuff. The vast, vast majority—almost every single person—would never turn to violence in response. But it only takes one."