‘This is Not the End of the Road’
After just three weeks serving as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Middletown native retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn resigned from the post on Monday, Feb. 13. It was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period.
“Some folks didn’t like Mike. This is not the end of the road for Mike, just a new road for him to go down,” said his brother Jack Flynn, who still lives in Middletown.
Flynn, one of nine siblings, was raised in a small house on Tuckerman Avenue in what his siblings have described as a “very Democratic Catholic family.” He is known locally for his athleticism and his love for the ocean and surfing.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador,” wrote Flynn in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology.”
Flynn, 58, is not a stranger to political polemic against his judgment.
In 2010, Flynn authored a controversial report that claimed the U.S. intelligence community was not studying relevant information required to fight foreign enemies. Although then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates labeled the analysis a “candid self-assessment,” his conclusion did not sit well with many in the Obama administration.
Nevertheless, in 2011 Flynn was promoted to lieutenant general and assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In 2012, Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Two years later in 2014, Flynn retired after 33 years in the military. He had continued to clash with the Obama administration, warning the United States was no safer from terrorism than before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Flynn was an early advocate for Trump, unlike others in the administration, such as Steve Bannon, who pledged support only after Trump secured the Republican nomination.
After his resignation, Flynn has remained resolute in his loyalty, stating that the Trump administration “will go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in U.S. history.”
Similarly, Trump broadcasted that leaks, not Flynn, are the “real story.”
The president tweeted Tuesday, “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N. Korea, etc.?”
Flynn wrote, “I am also extremely honored to have served President Trump, who in just three weeks has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America’s leadership position in the world. As I step away once again from serving my nation in this current capacity, I wish to thank President Trump for his personal loyalty, the friendship of those who I worked with throughout the hard fought campaign, the challenging period of transition, and during the early days of his presidency.”
For some Democrats, including Rhode Island’s U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, Flynn’s resignation reinforces the need for a bipartisan review of Russia’s involvement in national activities, including the election.
“I think this once again raises the issue of the Russian connection to the Trump administration – to their policies, to personnel who work there, and who may still be working there, and that has to be explored intensively and the American people have to have all the facts,” Reed said in statement.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline posted a series of unanswered questions on his Facebook page. including, “Who else knew that General Flynn was discussing sanctions relief with Russia last December? Who in the White House knew that the Department of Justice considered General Flynn a security risk, and why didn’t they fire him then?”
Cicilline called for an “ independent, bipartisan investigation.”
Despite Flynn’s resignation, Newport’s ties to the NSA position may not be severed.
Retired Navy SEAL Robert “Bob” Harward, born at Newport Hospital, has emerged as one of the top three contenders for the post. He was educated in Iran and later returned to Newport to attend the Naval Academy Preparatory School.
Flynn’s former boss and former CIA director David Petraeus has also been named as a possible choice. He shared in his own period of controversy when, in 2012, he allegedly passed classified information to his biographer and mistress.
A third candidate is retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who, like Flynn, advised Trump on national security and foreign policy during the presidential campaign.