CLEVELAND — Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s top foreign policy adviser, vowed Monday that the presumptive Republican nominee will “keep us safe” in a rambling speech during which he called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race for president and then led the crowd at the Republican National Convention in chants of “Lock her up!”
“We do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law,” said Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, referring to her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
When convention delegates shouted “Lock her up,” Flynn enthusiastically encouraged them. “Yeah, that’s right, lock her up!” he said from the podium. Then, after clapping his hands, he proclaimed: “You’re damn right. There’s nothing wrong with that. Lock her up! You know why we’re saying that? If I did a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.”
“Let me be clear — coddling and displays of empathy toward terrorists is not a strategy for defeating these murderers, as Obama and Hillary Clinton would like us to believe,” Flynn said. “Under Barack Obama we have no coherent strategy to protect our citizens, and under Hillary Clinton it will be more of the same.”
The speech by the tough-talking Flynn came during an evening that the GOP had set aside to emphasize law and order and national security issues, its traditional strong suits. And Flynn’s primetime appearance underscored his rising prominence in Donald Trump’s orbit and as a potential top national security official — such as a future director of National Intelligence — if the GOP nominee is elected.
But the speech came on a day when Flynn faced new questions about some of his more controversial views — he has expressed a willingness to resume waterboarding — as well as his relationship with a Russian TV station that serves as a propaganda arm of President Vladimir Putin’s government.
In an interview with Yahoo News earlier in the day, Flynn appeared to acknowledge for the first time that he was paid to fly to Moscow last December and speak at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT, the Russian TV channel that regularly promotes the Kremlin line. Flynn, who later sat next to Putin at a dinner honoring RT, has since made occasional appearances as a commentator on the channel.
“You’ll have to speak to my speakers’ bureau,” Flynn replied to Yahoo News when pressed on whether he was paid by the Russian government for the appearance.
In his speech, Flynn laced into Obama and Clinton for “bumbling indecisiveness, willful ignorance and total incompetence” that he said has “single-handedly brought continued mayhem, murder and destruction into our neighborhoods and onto the world’s streets.”
But Flynn, while attempting to outline how Trump would change foreign policy, at times seemed to ramble into side issues, such as the Obama administration’s recent directive to schools ordering them to provide transgender students with access to bathrooms that match their chosen gender identity.
“We must maintain our ability to crush our enemies,” he said. “Our troops are distracted by trivial matters about what words to use, what bathrooms to open up.
“War is not about bathrooms!” Flynn shouted. “Nor is it about political correctness. War is about winning!”