Historian Ruth Ben-Gyatt of the Associated Press’ Michelle R. told Smith that Flynn is “one of the most dangerous men in America today.” “He is leading the attack on our democracy, which is coming from many quarters, and he is connected to many of these areas, from the military to Christian nationalism to the denial of elections to extremist groups. All of this come together to present a very live threat. And that’s at the center.”
The 63-year-old retired lieutenant general was briefly Trump’s director of national intelligence until he was caught lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian ambassador, for which he was fired and then charged with the crime. Convicted, but later pardoned by Trump. In November 2020, after the elections. The pardon seems to have had the effect of leaving Flynn as general of MAGA’s endless rebellion.
An Associated Press/Frontline investigation found that Flynn has used an endless parade of public appearances, usually with a long slate of like-minded right-wing “celebrity” spokespeople, that Trump The voter turnout was designed to be encouraging – more than 60 showed up in person in 24. States – with a wide array of crazy conspiracy theories and fear mongering. These events bring together factions such as the Proud Boys, covid deniers, Christian nationalists, and insurgents with elected officials and Republican Party leaders and candidates.
At the same time, he has built a network of nonprofit groups, with an estimated net worth of $50 million. In the process, The Associated Press and Frontline documented, Flynn and his companies earned hundreds of thousands of dollars for his efforts.
His primary vehicle is the Reawaken America Tour, which is holding events across the country. Organized by far-right “alpha male” Clay Clark, the rallies—often held in megachurches—feature long rosters of prominent right-wing political and evangelical speakers, including Trump’s son Eric, My Pillow executive Mike Lindale, including notorious homophobe Sean Feicht. , and a host of others.
One such event held in April in Salem, Oregon, a suburb of Keizer, drew a crowd of 4,000 people. It was a non-stop circus of right-wing conspiracism and Christian nationalism. At one point, Flynn introduced A video appearance From Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the one-time Apostolic Nuncio to the US who launched the pro-Putin, anti-Ukraine rant. Vigano told the audience (as he has done elsewhere) that the Russian military is actually stopping the invasion of the deep state and countering the “globalist cabal.” He also claimed that the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov Battalion was present in the capital uprising of January 6, 2021.
Flynn covers a wide range of culture war hotspots in his speeches, peppering crowd-pleasing one-liners with heavy religious undertones. He often tells audiences that America is in the midst of a “spiritual war” and lists many democratic institutions and principles as “the enemy.”
His brand of Christian nationalism is decidedly authoritarian. Speaking to a Texas audience on the Reawaken America tour last November, he explained that his idea of national unity included everyone thinking and worshiping the same way.
“If we are to have one nation under God, which is what we must, we must have one religion,” Flynn said. “One nation under God and one religion under God, right? We are all working together.”
He has claimed that a nefarious “globalist” cabal created Covid-19 and tells his audience that the Socialist Party has 75 members in Congress. Flynn told the audience that he does not trust the US government or the government institutions that oversee the rule of law and claimed that Democrats are trying to destroy the country.
“Those who are currently in charge of our government are deliberately trying to destroy our country,” he said at a rally. “These people, they are not incompetent. They are not stupid. They are evil!”
Flynn has also called the media “enemy No. 1,” claiming that he has “done the country terrible, terrible damage just by constantly lying and trying to deceive us.” Public elementary schools, he claims, are teaching “filth” and “obscenity.” He called the left “our enemy” and said they were “godless” and “soulless”.
But the main focus of these rallies is election denialism. At a rally at Utah’s Salt Palace Convention Center, Flynn once again announced that Trump had won the 2020 election and said “our government is corrupt.”
Flynn—who was a participant in a December 20, 2020 meeting with Trump at the White House to plan ways to prevent Joe Biden from assuming the presidency, including Flynn’s suggestion that Trump confiscate ballot boxes. use the military—repeatedly Reawaken tells America’s audience. that the election against Trump was rigged, and that Biden’s ascent had created a “moment of crisis” for America. He tells the audience that the electoral system is “completely broken” and blames both Democratic “socialists” and establishment Republican “Rhinos” (Republicans in name only).
His solution is key to his emerging strategy: go local. Flynn, who illustrates the adage that “local action has national impact,” tells the audience that “people at the county level have the ability to change this country.” He points out that elected county commissioners can write more restrictive voting laws, and that elected sheriffs can enforce those laws — which neatly lines up with the strategy being pursued by “constitutional sheriffs” and their Trumpist allies. Matches, who are also advocating confiscation. Voting machines
“We need to take this country back one town at a time, one county at a time, one state at a time, if that’s all,” he told a crowd in Salt Lake City.
Flynn began working diligently to expand MAGA’s power locally in May 2021 after becoming chairman of America’s Future, the longtime paleoconservative nonprofit organization founded by Phyllis Schalfly. He immediately partnered with Charlie Kirk’s far-right campus group, Turning Point USA, and others to form a broad coalition called County Citizens Defending Freedom USA (CCDFUSA), which describes itself as “an organization that Empowers and equips American citizens to protect themselves.Freedoms and liberties at the local level.
Although it has sponsored a series of training programs, protests, and candidate meetings focusing on mask mandates, vaccination requirements, and critical race theory, CCDFUSA has not yet spread widely. To date all of its affiliates are located in just three states: Texas, Georgia and Florida.
Flynn’s actions last week in Sarasota, Florida showed that he intends to lead by example. On Thursday evening, Flynn was sworn in as one of several dozen new members of the local GOP executive committee. He also signed up to be a “poll watcher.”
Flynn was elected by voice vote at the Morgan Family Community Center in Northport, Florida, along with James Hole, a local leader of the Proud Boys. Hoyle and another proud boy, Nicholas Radovich, played active roles in changing the Sarasota County School Board from a longtime 3-2 liberal majority to a 4-1 right-leaning institution in the Aug. 23 election. Radovich was photographed at the victory party wearing a Proud Boys hat and T-shirt flashing a white Power symbol.
The Facebook page for the Sarasota Watchdogs, which is affiliated with Hoyle and the Proud Boys, ran photos of Flynn with his newly elected comrades. “Congratulations to all the new Sarasota Republican Executive Club members!” Page said. “This is local action at its best! For the first time in a long time, families are involved and excited! Please message us for an application to attend the October meeting! FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM IN FLORIDA…WE WILL HOLD THE LINE! Prayers and love to each of the 50+ new members.
“As long as I have breath left in me, I will continue to push this message of local action and national impact,” Flynn later said. “And now I, now I want to be able to tell people when they say, when somebody says, well, are you doing, what are you doing specifically? I’m going to , I’m now part of the Republican Executive Committee for Sarasota, GOP. And I’m volunteering to be an election watcher in the state of Florida, especially in this county, in the upcoming elections.”
“Poll watching” operations are part of this local strategy. Another Flynn operation called the America Project, financed by Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne, has created affiliate groups in at least nine states as part of its “Operation Eagle’s Wings.”
Last month, its Florida affiliate announced on Facebook that it was looking for “America’s First Poll Watchers,” offering free training to interested groups. This training includes grassroots social activism, poll-witching, and voting efforts. Promotional material for the sessions says it will teach participants to “expose vulnerabilities,” “monitor and evaluate absentee voting” and “exploratory campaigning.”
Sarasota attorney Ron Filipkowski, a longtime Republican activist, told The Associated Press that the latest move was part of Flynn’s larger plan. “He’s going to build this grassroots movement, local elected officials look up to him, are loyal to him,” Filipkowski said.
Flynn’s detachment from reality would, in a normal political climate, relegate him to the fringes of American politics. The problem is that many other people are similarly detached. Polls and surveys regularly show that millions of Americans, almost all Republicans, believe Flynn.
“Any one of these factors alone can be considered dangerous. But they’re all together and it’s sowing distrust in our democracy,” Christine Cobbs du Maze, a history professor at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told The Associated Press. “I think it’s too dangerous at this point.”
Flynn’s dualistic rhetoric depicting a war between good and evil has long been a staple among conservative Christians, Du Mez says. It can also incite violence.
“They are out to get us. So we should strike first. And the threat is always dire,” Du Maze says, describing their reasoning. “And if the threat is serious, the end justifies the means. These values are not unrelated to the violence that we saw on January 6,” he added.