Mar 19, 2018, 8:56 AM ET

Michael Flynn 'putting his life back together' after guilty plea in Mueller probe


While President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn awaits sentencing for lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian officials, the retired three-star Army general has been quietly "putting his life back together," surfing and even dabbling in politics, friends and relatives say.

Interested in Russia Investigation?

Add Russia Investigation as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Russia Investigation news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

Flynn has kept a low profile for more than three months following the dramatic court appearance in which he made what confidants call a humiliating admission for a soldier with a decorated 33-year military career. He has avoided the news media and even moved to shut down a conservative lobbyist’s unauthorized public fundraising event for his legal defense fund.

"He felt he needed to act as a soldier and has kept his mouth shut," a close confidant told ABC News. "He doesn't want to be viewed as whiner."

But in a move that stunned some supporters, Flynn returned to the spotlight on Friday night, appearing beside Omar Navarro, a Republican who is running against Democratic stalwart Rep. Maxine Waters in California’s 43rd Congressional District and has already collected endorsements from a trio of political celebrities: GOP consultant Roger Stone, Infowars' Alex Jones and former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

“What I'm not here to do, is I'm not here to complain about who has done me wrong, or how unfair I've been treated or how unfair the entire process has been,” Flynn said to laughter from supporters as he introduced Navarro at the rally. “You know, it is what it is." 

While a far cry from his infamous "Lock her up!" speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, Flynn’s appearance at a political rally raised eyebrows among some of Flynn’s supporters, who believe he should have avoided an event that did little to help his public image.

Several longtime friends who served with Flynn in the military -- and spoke anonymously to comment more frankly about a former commander they still admire -- found the campaign appearance last week "perplexing," with one deriding it as an example of "more bad decisions.”

In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington.AP
In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington.

Waters is not a member of the Congressional committees investigating Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections, but she has been critical of Flynn in the past, which could explain the general’s surprise support for Navarro. In an February 2017 appearance on MSNBC, Waters slammed Flynn as a member of what she called Trump’s “Kremlin clan.”

Flynn's lawyer Robert Kelner did not respond to an ABC News request for comment on the Friday campaign appearance. 

Navarro told ABC News that he did not pay Flynn “directly or indirectly” to speak or cover his travel expenses from Rhode Island, but his closest supporters say carefully raising his public profile again is key to his ability to earn income.

Flynn is selling his Old Town Alexandria townhouse for about $835,000 to pay steep legal fees amassed over the past ten months since Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to probe alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

Friends and family say he’d like to get back to doing some sort of "foreign policy" consulting, but it's not apparent whether he has actively sought or accepted any such work.

Out of public view, Flynn has been focused mostly on grappling with a year of personal turmoil since President Trump dismissed him after 24 days as his national security adviser. Recent photos shared on social media by family members show Flynn surfing frigid waves off the New England coast in a body suit.

"What he's doing is putting his life back together and looking forward," his brother Joe Flynn told ABC News.

Many of his supporters do not believe that he did, in fact, lie to the FBI when agents visited the White House 14 months ago to question him about contacts he had with the Russian ambassador during the transition following the November 2016 election.

"I think he did not lie to the FBI,” author and commentator Michael Ledeen, a close friend of Flynn and his wife Lori, said recently. “I cannot imagine him lying to the FBI.”

His younger brother Joe also rejects the idea that his sibling would ever do anything dishonorable.

"There is nothing he would ever do willfully to harm the United States,” Joe Flynn told ABC News.

Why Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to FBI agents and agreed to be a cooperating witness as part of a plea to avoid a trial -- if he was actually innocent, as his supporters maintain -- has so far not been explained. 

"We know the truth about the man,” said another close confidant. “There is no way those crimes were committed.”

PHOTO: In this file photo dated Nov. 17, 2016, Michael Flynn Jr. is seen behind his father, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as they arrive at Trump Tower in New York City. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images, FILE
In this file photo dated Nov. 17, 2016, Michael Flynn Jr. is seen behind his father, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as they arrive at Trump Tower in New York City.

A popular belief pushed by some conservative supporters is that he pleaded guilty to protect his outspoken son Michael Flynn Jr. from facing unspecified charges related to his role in the now-shuttered Flynn Intel Group lobbying firm. Mueller's team reportedly threatened to indict his son, according to the Washington Post, but sources close to the family say even the Flynn family is in the dark about what prosecutors actually did or did not have on Flynn Jr.

For one thing, until former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was charged by Mueller, it was very rare for anyone to be prosecuted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is one law Mueller looked at as he examined Flynn’s work for entities tied to the Turkish government. 

A month before his father’s surprise guilty plea, Michael Flynn Jr. tweeted, “The disappointment on your faces when I don’t go to jail will be worth all your harassment.” Flynn’s son has not been charged with any crime.

Friends and family members have discussed a social media effort to build public support for somehow reversing the disgrace of a felony conviction. They have pushed the hashtag #ClearFlynnNow, which Joe Flynn says has gained some traction on Twitter.

But given the iron-clad language of his plea agreement, even diehard supporters in the retired general’s orbit concede privately it will be tough to walk back Flynn’s guilty plea. It is also unclear how he is helping the Mueller investigation.

Some supporters are holding out hope that the Justice Department inspector general’s report due to be released possibly next month — which sank FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday when he was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions 26 hours before his effective retirement date — will somehow offer exculpatory evidence of FBI misconduct that will compel the judge to let Flynn off the hook.

Trump could also pardon Flynn at any time, but his lawyer and family have not said if he has asked the White House to do so.

ABC News’ Emily Goodin contributed to this report.

News - Michael Flynn 'putting his life back together' after guilty plea in Mueller probe

RRelated Posts


  • mnemos

    I'm kind of confused by this, since the whole case is under review at this point since last I heard the prosecution was still trying to defend the plea deal after they withheld evidence.

  • ExtraStealth

    Rob one guy, and you get prison. Rob 350 million people and you get a book deal.

  • P bis

    The guy would endorse anyone who would help pay his bills. He should have heeded the old adage "You sleep with dogs, you get fleas."

  • Dave ouellette

    Flynn is a great man and charges will be reversed

  • Emu Cat

    Getting ready for prison?

  • OnTheEdge

    Much more to be written about General Flynn.

  • Unome

    Just can't keep up with all this chaos.

  • Furrmin The Cat

    The GOP base is just too gullible. They found someone willing to state they felt Flynn did not lie to the FBI. But they were not asked why they felt this way. They also were not asked what is the proper food to feed a unicorn. Flynn had a choice and these people are PRETENDING that they are not aware of this fact. He could go to jail for about 20 - 30 years for the crimes that are listed on paper and that he did in fact commit. He was a secret agent of a foreign country who procured a job in the White House That translates to a foreign secret agent infiltrates the White House and does untold of damage. But the republicans are up in arms about Hilary's emails? Stupid huh? So Flynn copped a plea to lying and in return for not going to jail for the rest of his life is wearing a wire and given all the juicy details about the illegal dealings of the Trump and Kushner organizations. Yet people think he was tricked into lying that he lied.

    "You can't fix stupid." -- Ron White.

  • Baa

    "He felt he needed to act as a soldier and has kept his mouth shut," - to bad he didn't act as a soldier and not lied.

  • janie126

    If Trump can pardon the other traitor..he will.

  • Former Earthling

    He's a disgrace. Take this traitor's pension away.

  • Truth-B-Me

    Enjoy it while you can Flynn Flam Man, as you are going to prison...........Lock him up!!! I hope Bubba falls in love with you in prison you deserve it!!!

  • PhatDevil

    Once a dirt bag, always a dirt bag.... Just ask Trump.

  • Truthfully

    Let Stormy Speak!

  • Truthfully

    Flynn is Corrupt as the Republican Party is.
    Where can you commit Treason and still get a job??
    Apparently the Trump White House and Republican Party,

  • janie126

    Gee, I wonder if that traitor got to keep his pension.....

  • mollydtt

    Seriously--People didn't "do Flynn wrong". Flynn was the criminal.
    Still is.

  • Thomas

    " the retired three-star Army general "

    the disgraced three-star Army general

    Fixed that for ya.

    How this man could be allowed to retire escapes me. But if Disgraced General Pertaeus was allowed to keep his pension, I guess this criminal should also....I guess

  • Life's a River

    He should be in jail. He betrayed his country when he went to work for RT, the Kremlin's news outlet. He was a former director of our military intelligence service, and for him to go to Russia to meet with Putin and go to work for him is tantamount to treason.

    Obama tried to warn trump about all this, as did the CIA and FBI, and of course trump just ignored the advice. In true trump style. Ignorance is one thing, but willful ignorance is inexcusable.

  • Mark Elliott

    Who cares about his life lying traitorous scumbag was texting the Russians about rolling back the sanctions from the inauguration dais and acting as an undisclosed foreign agent for 2 countries. Lock him up! Lock him up!

  • Fermer Votre Bouche

    Seems the terms of his ROR are not nearly as restrictive as they should be.

  • New Deal

    In spite of the claim of the "close confidant", Flynn sure sounds like he's whining to me.

  • Timehascome

    "Surfing and dabbling in Politics"????? Did I read that correctly? He should be trading a slice of bread for mashed potatoes in the prison chow line!
    Whatever Flynn has given Mueller better be worth his walking around freedom...oh yeah...and surfing too. Getting involved in Politics should be considered a Violation with Flynn...not a hobby.
    Yes...spilling his Guts to Mueller better be worth this kind of Free Time. Is he (Flynn) receiving a US Military Pension as well?
    Only in Current America are we asking these types of questions of know...Since Trump has been in Office!

  • WhosVoice

    Flynn you do not get to put your life back together until you are done putting America back together by fixing the crimes you committed as a member of the Trump campaign, transition & staff.

  • B_2

    Amazing how this site controls ability to give thumbs up; but doesn't allow thumbs down on comments made. Typical liberal control!

  • Prophet With Honor

    So who payed for his trip to front for the nutbar candidate?

  • robert brewster

    I will not lie,cheat steal nor hang with those who do. What happened General? You forget your promise?

  • Alex Ross

    Seems impossible for him to get his "life back" before he goes to jail.

  • whitepine

    Putting his life together?? So he is free to do all this? Nice to have friends in high places. The rich sure live in bubble wrapped world. Like the Toys R Us CEO gets $42 million and the employees get a pink slip.

  • will Russell

    What a whiner. The process is so unfair? I suppose it might seem that way to someone who lies to the FBI.

  • My two cents

    So are we supposed to feel sorry for the guy now? Fat. Chance.

  • TexasVulcan

    Judging from the people who have endorsed this guy, he's a far-right typical Trump type.