During today’s hearing, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, who ran as Hillary Clinton’s vice president, raised questions about Flynn’s role in disseminating fake news.
Kaine said he was the subject of at least two fake news stories. One was so far-fetched, he said it was paid little notice. But another fake story was shared more than 800,000 times.
The incident, he said, raised serious concerns about Flynn’s fitness to serve in such a sensitive role. As an advisor, however, Flynn does not need Senate confirmation to serve.
Flynn has a long, star-crossed career in the military, including a clash with retired Gen. James Mattis while both were serving in Afghanistan.
Mattis sacked then Lt. Gen. Flynn in 2010, after Flynn was investigated by Central Command (CENTCOM) for illegally sharing classified information with Pakistani officials, according to Army documents.
Flynn was sent back to Washington, D.C., a month later and given a temporary assignment as the special assistant to the chief of Army intelligence, according to The Washington Post, which examined the records.
Flynn came under investigation a second time the same year after an anonymous Navy intelligence specialist claimed the general “inappropriately” shared secret information with “various foreign officers and/or officials in Afghanistan.”
Surprisingly, Flynn wasn’t disciplined for what should have been career-ending behavior. Instead, he was kicked upstairs to head the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) .
He retired from the military in 2014 and was an early supporter of Trump during the election. His actions during the campaign drew sharp criticism.
Decorated war hero and retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey questioned Flynn’s fitness to serve as National Security Adviser. He changed his opinion after reviewing what he called “borderline demented” fake news that Flynn circulated on social media during the election.
In an NBC News interview, McCaffrey said he was “extremely uneasy” about Flynn in such a sensitive role.
“I’m now extremely uneasy about some of these tweets, which don’t sound so much as if they are political skulduggery, but instead border on being demented. So I think we need to look into this and sort out what’s going on here,” he said.
Flynn and his son, Michael G. Flynn Jr., who was working with his father on the Trump transition team, were the source of Tweets claiming Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was involved in child-sex rings.
Flynn posted a tweet that said the New York Police Department (NYPD) “Blows the Whistle on… sex with children. He specifically referenced a fake news Web site and added: “MUST READ.”
Some right-wing propaganda sites tried to obfuscate the issue by claiming Flynn was actually referring to former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal with a 15-year-old girl. Weiner was married to Clinton Aide Huma Abedin.
But the article in question clearly ties Clinton to “sex crimes.”
It reads: “NYPD sources said these new emails include evidence linking Clinton herself and associates to: Money laundering, child exploitation, sex crimes with minors (children), perjury, Pay to play through Clinton Foundation, Obstruction of justice [and] other felony crimes.”
None of the claims turned out to be true.
In fact, the retired Army general posted 16 unfounded accusations on his Twitter account leading up to and during the election, according to an analysis by Politico.
During his tenure as DIA head, Flynn was known to play fast and loose with facts. Members of his staff would sometimes refer to his unfounded assertions as “Flynn Facts,” according to The Post.
Flynn also has ties to Russia.
The retired general has been courted and groomed by Margarita Simonyan the Editor-in-Chief of RT (formally known as Russia Today), the Russian government propaganda network.
In 2015, RT served as one of the Kremlin’s primary tools to deny its invasion of eastern Ukraine and its role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Flynn took part in a paid speaking event in Russia at about the same time and became a semi-regular guest on RT.
He attended RT’s 10 anniversary gala and sat just a few seats away from Putin, attesting to his importance as an intelligence asset to the Russian propaganda effort.
He has appeared on RT programs numerous times arguing for better relations between the U.S. and Russia. He’s been an advocate for Russia on news programs in the United States.
Flynn is also a vocal critic of China and has also argued in favor of keeping Russia’s client, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in power, which is directly contrary to U.S. policy.
His views reflect to varying degrees talking points that are in line with the Kremlin.