Retired and disgraced Gen. Michael Flynn was the headline attraction at a QAnon conference held in Dallas over this past weekend. During his speech, he told the crowd that the U.S. should experience a coup like the one that took place in Myanmar on February 1, when that country's military leaders overthrew the democratically elected government and arrested its leaders.
In a video shared on Twitter, General Flynn is asked by a member of the assembled QAnon supporters, "I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can't happen here."
To cheers, Flynn answered ominously:
"No reason. I mean, it should happen here."
QAnon believers have been supportive of the military junta's actions in Myanmar since day one. According to Media Matters, following the coup in that country, far-right message boards and conspiracy theorists began cheering it as an "awakening" and wondering whether the same could happen in the United States. General Flynn, as a central figure in the QAnon conspiracy, was no doubt well aware of this when he made these remarks.
When the speech went viral on social media, many immediately called for the general to be court-martialed for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. Even as a retiree, General Flynn is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, at least under current law. (A challenge to the constitutionality of court-martialing retired service members is currently under consideration, but for the time being the law stands, and he is subject to being recalled to active duty and tried by a military tribunal.)
It didn't take long for Flynn to backtrack, perhaps in recognition of his own legal jeopardy. On his Parler account, he wrote, notwithstanding the video evidence, "Let me be VERY CLEAR – There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort."
In an ironic twist, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who was fired by ex-president Trump for disloyalty, called Flynn's remarks "seditious" and noted that they "crossed the line." Vindman is himself a Judge Advocate General and offered his services to prosecute Flynn's case. As for the threat of a coup, Vindmann wrote, "P.S. US mil would never do this. We love America."
It is highly unlikely the Pentagon will step into this minefield and prosecute Flynn.
This would likely only bring greater attention to the rantings of someone they'd sooner ignore. It would also set up another high-level court battle over whether retirees are actually still subject to the UCMJ, and there are several reasons, including overreach by Congress into the purview of the courts, that might ultimately render this a losing battle.
Asked to comment on any possible court-martial, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said, "Without speaking to this specific case: Retired officers can be brought back on to active duty to face disciplinary charges if it's warranted." Kirby continued, "It's very, very rare and, again, I'm not aware of any effort or interest in doing it in this case."