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Maj. General Michael T. Flynn speaks with his brother Col. Charlie Flynn, aide to General Stanley McChrystal, during a morning meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan in July 2009. (Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Curious Case of Two Generals Named Flynn

An insider says Mike Flynn's brother lied about the Pentagon's response to the Capitol riot.

Mike Lofgren

Time flies whether one is having fun or not: it's now almost a year since insurrectionists worked to nullify your vote in a violent storming of the Capitol. Investigations of the attempted overthrow of the government thus far have proceeded with all the urgency of an interagency review of the price structure of cafeterias in federal facilities.

Michael Flynn's brother, involved as he was in the decision to delay mobilizing the National Guard, shortly thereafter received a promotion to head U.S. Army Pacific: a prestigious field command.

Politico now reports that a former District of Columbia National Guard officer, Colonel Earl Matthews, has written a 36-page memo blasting the Pentagon inspector general's review of the Army's response to the January 6th insurrection. Colonel Matthews also suggests that congressional oversight of the incident has been stymied by senior Army officials lying in their testimony.

As for the inspector general's survey of the Capitol riot, the Matthews memo concludes that the survey's deflecting of blame from the Army was "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist." This is not implausible, given the history of inspectors general finding few problems in the agencies they oversee.

The memo's biggest tell is that it brands as "absolute and unmitigated liars" among the Army's congressional witnesses one General Charles Flynn, who at the time of the incident was the service's deputy chief of staff for operations. On January 6, he was stationed at the Pentagon, a couple of miles from the Capitol.

Does that name strike a chord? He is the brother of the ever-charming Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, fired and then sentenced for lying to the FBI about unofficial communications with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential transition. He was subsequently pardoned by Trump. Here is Mike in happier days among his congenial Russian hosts.

Flynn's subsequent career has been varied. Throughout the Trump presidency and beyond, he has acted as a tireless spokesman for Trump's interests, publicly advocating martial law to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He has also sworn an oath to QAnon, the bizarre conspiracy cult that has created a whole new form of contagious mass mental illness.

To be sure, Colonel Matthews's memo does not mention Michael Flynn, directly or indirectly. For a military observer like Matthews, who almost certainly had no personal knowledge of the relationship between the two brothers, it would have been improper for him to speculate.

But he has already denounced General Charles Flynn for lying to Congress. If that charge can be substantiated by evidence, one would likely conclude he was covering up an inappropriate response by the Army to the riot. What other rocks might be turned over?

It certainly bears investigation. After all, CNN host Chris Cuomo's assistance of his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, to manage media fallout over accusations that the latter engaged in sexual harassment, was covered up for months. The recent revelation of their collusion was a media sensation.

While that story certainly had legitimate news value, why, for eleven months, has the Flynn fraternal connection virtually lain fallow? Charles Flynn was a key figure in the delay of the response to an attempted overthrow of the United States Government; his brother Michael a beneficiary of Trump's pardon who might have "owed" the president. And Trump, of course, was the one who most of all would derive advantage from a successful coup.

Clearing up this question is not only crucial to a proper investigation of the Capitol riot. Michael Flynn's brother, involved as he was in the decision to delay mobilizing the National Guard, shortly thereafter received a promotion to head U.S. Army Pacific: a prestigious field command. The posting indicates, among other things, the Army's evaluation of his performance in situations where sound judgment is critical.

It also comes at a time when military veterans—and also serving military personnel—are being recruited by extremist groups, Both categories were disproportionately represented in the mob that attacked the Capitol. It is imperative that military and civilian leadership understand the domestic extremist threat and take action against it.

America's two-decade "forever war" in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in a U.S. military force enduring multiple tour of duty. It has unquestionably left at least some of the force, officers and enlisted alike, cynical and ripe for politicization.

History, of course never repeats itself exactly, but eerie parallels exist. There were masses of German soldiers who returned from World War I embittered and estranged by their pointless sacrifice, and inclined to blame the politicians for losing the war. They were readily recruited into the Freikorps militias, theoretically ad hoc formations to defend Germany's fluid border with a newly-created Polish state.

But they became increasingly involved in attacking the left political opposition in Germany's streets, developing a profound hatred of the democratic institutions of the Weimar Republic. Their activity helped pave the way for the Third Reich.

A correspondent of mine, a Vietnam combat veteran and former Marine, wrote this about the potential recruitment of extremists from the military: "… We have lost the ideal of what we wanted in a military reflecting our society, our right-wing society has captured the military… If you walk the Pentagon halls there will be not ONE TV tuned to anything else but FOX."

If that description even approaches reality, it clearly explains the military's wretchedly miserable intelligence about the war in Afghanistan. It does not require inordinate cynicism, however, to suppose the officer corps knows all about the War on Christmas.

To be certain, there were many people in the military and civilian chain of command on January 6th, and a coincidence of family ties is not proof. But it and everything else connected with the event bear close investigation, both in view of an insider's accusations of perjury, and the knack of inspectors general for minimizing or whitewashing government dysfunction.

I am struck by how few people in our civilian government seem to be aware that it was sheer luck that an overthrow of the government miscarried, and that the danger has not gone away. On the contrary: unaddressed, the peril will only increase. Like the politicians of Weimar, they behave like rabbits mesmerized by a cobra.


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Mike Lofgren

Mike Lofgren

Mike Lofgren is a former Republican congressional staff member who served on both the House and Senate budget committees. His books include: "The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government" (2016) and "The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted(2013).

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