How does “Trump-Flynn 2016” sound to you?
That’ll be the GOP presidential ticket if Trump decides to pick another non-politician — retired Lt. General Michael Flynn — to be his vice-presidential running-mate.
Robert Costa reports for The Washington Post, July 9, 2016, that after weeks of vetting a group of current and former elected officials — including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — in his search for a running mate, Donald Trump is increasingly intrigued by the idea of tapping retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn to project strength and know-how on national security, according to four people familiar with the vetting process.
Those four spoke with The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to discuss their private conversations in recent days with Trump’s confidants and campaign aides. They say the turn toward a military figure is being driven by Trump himself rather than by his advisers, as Trump believes that national unrest may demand a “tough and steady” presence alongside him on the ticket.
The shift in how Trump is evaluating his short list, being more open than ever to a non-politician, has also been spurred by his growing sense that he does not necessarily want or need a running mate who will satisfy Republican insiders, especially after some testy exchanges with GOP lawmakers during his visit Thursday to Capitol Hill. In Flynn, Trump thinks he would have a partner whom he trusts, based on their close working relationship since Flynn became a campaign adviser in February 2016. Trump also likes the image of a businessman and a general coming to Washington as outsiders. One person said, “Trump-Flynn. I’ve heard him say that, kind of test out the sound of it. I think it’s a brand he finds appealing.”
Trump is also slightly bored by the prospect of going with a traditional Republican. As a longtime celebrity, he knows the need for surprise and star power. But he is torn about whether his gut instincts (to pick a general) should outweigh political calculation (to choose a GOP politician), the people said.
In an interview with the New York Post, Flynn did not deny that he was under consideration, saying that “All I would say is that I have been honored to serve my country for the past three decades and look forward to serving in other ways now that I am retired from the U.S. Army. I’ve been a soldier too long to refuse to entertain any request from a potential commander in chief.”
Here’s what we know about Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael T. Flynn:
- 57-58 years old.
- A registered Democrat, but fierce critic of Obama.
- He was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from July 2012 to August 2014.
- He served in the U.S. Army for 33 years, from 1981 to 2014.
- His military career was primarily operational, with numerous combat arms, conventional and special operations senior intelligence assignments. He was the senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command, where he was credited with creating innovative intelligence-interrogation techniques that led to major breakthroughs in counterterrorism operations against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
- He did not leave the Obama administration on amicable terms. In 2014, he was effectively forced out of the DIA after clashing with officials over his management style and vision for the agency.
- Like Trump, Flynn is not hostile toward Russia. Last year, he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow dinner honoring RT, the English-language network aligned with the Kremlin that broadcasts into the United States and other Western countries.
- Flynn has a B.Sc. in management science from the University of Rhode Island (1981); an MBA from Golden Gate Univeristy; a Master of Miliary Art & Science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College; and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
- A published author, with articles in military and intelligence publications like Small Wars Journal, Military Review, Joint Forces Quarterly, and the Center for a New American Security, Flynn has a book coming out July 12, titled Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.
- He’s shown a willingness to be an attack dog, a role often played by VP candidates. Flynn said this about Hillary Clinton, when asked by CNN last February about her email practices while secretary of state: “If it were me, I would have been out the door and probably in jail.” Flynn has called on Hillary to drop out of the race.
- Flynn appears to be liberal on cultural issues:
- He is “pro-choice,” stating “women have to be able to choose.”
- On same-sex marriage, he said, “What people do in their private lives, these are not big issues that our country’s dealing with.”
Some Trump advisers are making a case against Flynn, saying he is a possible risk because of his lack of political experience and uncertainty over how he would handle intense national media scrutiny. His views on domestic policy are mostly unknown and his Democratic registration could also be a big problem among Republicans who want Trump to pick a proven conservative leader.
One person encouraging Trump to perhaps choose a general is Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), whose name has been suggested as Trump’s VP and who has become a force inside Trump’s campaign. Sessions shares Trump’s view that, while unorthodox, a general could excite voters from both parties who want to see wholesale change in domestic politics and an aggressive approach to combating terrorism.
Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds