Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) whom Donald Trump has picked to be his national security adviser, is known for his long and distinguished military career, his unceremonious exit from the DIA, and for his controversial views on Islam, torture, and Russia.
Flynn, a registered Democrat, was an early and ardent supporter of Trump’s improbable presidential run, giving the Republican presidential hopeful a much-needed endorsement from the national-security establishment. He led crowds at Trump’s rallies to chant “Lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent. “Donald Trump is about the future of this country and making sure that we take a direction … that puts us back on a track that we can continue to be the global leader around the world,” he told Fox Business Network in July.
But his tenure at the DIA, as well as his remarks about Islam and torture, made Flynn a divisive figure. He might have had trouble winning Senate confirmation had Trump nominated him for a Cabinet position that requires one; the position of national security adviser does not. Flynn said he believes the Obama administration’s failure to describe the conflict with groups like ISIS as “radical Islamic terrorism” aims to “dumb us down”; said on Twitter that “we are facing violent, but very serious and cunning radical Islamists”; and, also on Twitter, called the fear of Muslims “rational.” Additionally, he once retweeted an anti-Semitic message that read “Cnn implicated. 'The USSR is to blame!' ... Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” He apologized and later deleted the message. Flynn has also declined to back away from Trump’s support of the waterboarding of terrorism suspects, telling Al Jazeera that he is a “believer in leaving as many options on the table right up until the last possible minute.”