Michael Flynn wasn’t the star of the House January 6 committee’s hearing on Tuesday. In fact, he appeared – via taped video testimony – for less than five minutes.
And yet, what Flynn said – or, really, didn’t say – deserves far more attention than it got.
Cheney: Do you believe the violence on January 6 was justified morally?
Flynn: Take the Fifth.
Cheney: Do you believe the violence on January 6 was justified legally?
Cheney: Do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America?
Flynn: The Fifth
So, just to be crystal clear, Flynn cited his right not to incriminate himself when asked directly whether he believes in the peaceful transition of power. He refused to answer whether he believes in a principle that sits, literally, at the heart of American democracy.
And, he did this as the former national security adviser to the the President of the United States and a longtime member of the US military.
When you stop and think about all of that, it’s almost breathtaking.
Except when you consider what else Flynn has said over the past few years as he became more and more identified with the most extreme elements of Donald Trump’s base.
In June 2021, Flynn was asked a question about why the coup in Myanmar that had seen the military seize control of the government couldn’t (or shouldn’t) happen in the United States.
“No reason,” replied Flynn. “I mean, it should happen here. No reason.”
In December 2020, Flynn seemed to entertain the possibility of martial law to keep Trump in office.
“It’s not unprecedented,” he said on December 17. “I mean, these people out there talking about martial law, like it’s something that we’ve never done. Martial law has been instituted 64 times. …”I’m not calling for that.”
Flynn has also suggested that Covid-19 was created as a way to steal the 2020 election. “So let’s introduce something called Covid, and they did it,” Flynn told Infowars host – and noted conspiracy theorist — Alex Jones this past January.
Flynn’s life over the past few years has been as chaotic as his views. In December 2017, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians and became a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He eventually rescinded that guilty plea, broke off cooperation with Mueller and, at the end of Trump’s term, received a broad pardon.
Given all of that, it is deeply telling that Flynn pleaded the Fifth when asked whether he believed in a peaceful transfer of power. Because, well, he may not.