Michael Flynn Just Pulled Out of a QAnon-Connected Fundraiser

He decided not to attend after a Mother Jones story revealed the event’s ties to the conspiracy theory.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves the federal courthouse following a status hearing in Washington on July 10, 2018.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, pulled out of a fundraiser for his legal defense fund that was organized by a supporter of the bizarre conspiracy theory known as QAnon, after Mother Jones reported on the event’s connection to the fringe group.

Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, tweeted Saturday that “given recent reports and comments,” Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, would not be participating “in a conference in Atlanta on Sept 14.” The conference referenced is the Digital Soldiers Conference, a one-day event that promises to prepare attendees to battle against “censorship and oppression” at the hands of “Big Tech Socialists” who have been “de-platforming those who dare violate their liberal sensitivities.” The event’s proceeds are to benefit a fund raising money for Flynn’s legal defense, according to the conference website.

Earlier this month, Mother Jones’ Dan Friedman and Ali Breland reported that Flynn and George Papadopolous, who also aided the Trump campaign on foreign policy, were scheduled to appear at the event organized by a QAnon follower, Richard Granville. Granville told Mother Jones he was working with Powell, Flynn’s attorney, to organize the “Digital Soldiers” event.

The event is being organized by Rich Granville, the CEO of Yippy, Inc, who has a Twitter feed littered with references to QAnon, a conspiracy theory centered around the notion that Trump is secretly taking down an international ring of pedophiles that includes high-ranking Democrats. QAnon supporters believe that an anonymous person known as Q is dropping online clues about this supposed clandestine operation. The web page for Granville’s conference prominently features an American flag festooned with a Q. 

In an interview, Granville denied that the Q on the flag is a deliberate QAnon reference. He said the stars refer to Flynn’s prior status as a three-star general. “It does look like Q, but there is no reference to QAnon anywhere on that site,” Granville said. He acknowledged that he personally espouses QAnon views. “Do I think it’s good for America? Absolutely,” he said. “Do I think it’s a conspiracy theory? I doubt that.”

“I am with anybody who is with the United States of America, any digital soldier, any patriot, any average American who is doing their part to support the president of the United States,” Granville said.

A follow-up story from Mother Jones indicated that Powell had asked a federal judge to allow Flynn to travel to Georgia in September. On Friday, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan granted Flynn’s request, meaning he could have attended the Atlanta conference. Flynn is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his contact with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, during the presidential transition period:

Flynn admitted in his plea that he had lied by denying they had discussed sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. Flynn also admitted to lying to FBI agents about other transition activities and to lying in Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) documents submitted to the Justice Department about his lobbying activities for Turkey while he advised the Trump campaign. 

Mueller’s office, citing Flynn’s “substantial cooperation,” recommended last December that he receive a lenient sentence. But in June, Flynn dismissed the attorneys who had negotiated his plea deal. He hired Powell, a Dallas attorney, right-wing pundit, and vocal Mueller critic. Powell quickly began attacking prosecutors; through his new attorney, Flynn claimed he had not lied in his FARA filings, which were submitted by his former lawyers, because he had not read them. That reversal caused prosecutors to dump plans to call Flynn as a star witness in the trial of his former lobbying partner, Bijan Rafiekian. A jury last month nevertheless convicted Rafiekian of illegally lobbying for Turkey.

A second tweet from Powell says she and Flynn “strongly condemn the statements by Mr. Rich Granville as reported by Mother Jones and the two ‘hit pieces’ by Mr. Dan Friedman.” As of 4 pm on Saturday afternoon, Flynn remained listed on the event’s website as a speaker.

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