♪ ♪ >> ♪ only God ♪ >> I mean there is a spiritual war and there is a political war!
>> Now Georgia’s election probe is advancing... >> Seeking testimony from former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn... >> Michael Flynn’s whole life is really a story of culture war from start to finish... >> NARRATOR: From army general... >> I am a guy who spent my entire career thinking about the enemies that we are going to face.
>> NARRATOR: To conspiracy theorist... >> We want you to know that we will not stand for a lie!
>> General Flynn you know he’s a living martyr.
>> Be proud as Christians, be proud as patriots.
>> This idea that this was spiritual warfare, it’s not even an undertone.
>> The battle for the soul of America, using the church as a tool.
>> Is this a spiritual awakening?
You bet it is.
>> NARRATOR: Now FRONTLINE and The Associated Press investigate... >> What are you fighting for?
>> NARRATOR: "Michael Flynn's Holy War."
>> ♪ I won’t be denied ♪ >> God bless you.
God bless America.
And thank you very much.
>> This is a life-changing time.
If America falls, there's no place to go.
How much longer can we last?
(cheers and applause) >> Ladies and gentlemen, please stand to your feet and greet General Michael Flynn!
(cheers and applause) >> MICHELLE SMITH: When I first saw Michael Flynn speak to an audience, it was hard to reconcile who he once was with who he had become.
>> Tonight, you're gonna get an ass-chewing from a general.
(cheers and applause) >> SMITH: A retired three-star general once hailed as an intelligence genius.
Today, he's touring the country as a leader in a far-right movement that puts its brand of Christianity at the center of civic life and institutions.
>> We are a faith-based society, and that's in our DNA.
It's in the DNA of the United States of America.
>> SMITH: To his critics, he's conspiracy theorist, a criminal, and a traitor.
But within this movement, he is a martyr, a warrior, and an evangelist.
>> I am an absolute product of prayer.
(cheers and applause) Prayer is probably the most powerful weapon system known to man.
This is what scares our enemies.
Okay, the left, the socialists, the Marxists, the communists.
This is what scares them.
>> SMITH: How did this respected general return from the battlefields of the War on Terror only to see a greater enemy at home?
>> I am not gonna turn my country over to my children and my grandchildren, I'm just not gonna turn over a communist country to them.
No way, no way.
>> SMITH: And where is his crusade headed?
>> We're here in our land.
We have got to start demonstrating even more courage.
(cheers and applause) God bless you, God bless America, and thank you very much, peace.
(cheers and applause) >> America, say amen.
>> Let we the people say amen!
♪ ♪ >> If you've been paying attention to the media, the Associated Press came out with what can only be described as a hatchet job against Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.
>> Thanks, Josh.
There's a darkness that they have.
I mean, there's almost like a soullessness to the people that wrote the article.
>> SMITH: Anyway, I'll ping you when I get in the office and we'll figure it out.
Okay, all right, bye.
SMITH: I've been following Michael Flynn for "Frontline" and the Associated Press for over a year.
A lot of people dismiss Flynn as a fringe figure, but our reporting showed that he's become one of the most prominent right-wing leaders in America.
He's building a movement, headlining rallies that draw anti-vaxxers, election deniers, and extremists from around the country.
He's building alliances.
He's made around 100 political endorsements for this year's elections.
>> A partnership with "Frontline," and the result of a months-long investigation... >> SMITH: And he's building a nationwide grassroots operation that's spending millions to advance its agenda.
(on camera): All right, well, that's good.
(indistinct) is out.
>> General Michael Flynn, ladies and gentlemen.
(cheers and applause) >> SMITH: Okay, take a breath.
(phone chimes) (voiceover): Our reporting touched a nerve.
Messages started to come in almost immediately.
And Flynn himself responded with a 90-minute video denouncing it.
>> Look at the opposition that we are up against.
We are in a fight for the very survival of our country.
And there has been an infiltration of communists into the federal government.
And there are external powers that support them.
I haven't mentioned the New World Order, which I just did.
These are all forces that we are up against.
They're going to use every element that they can.
And this article is among them.
And actually it leads to a full documentary that's gonna be coming out and it's gonna be, you know, really, it's gonna be a really horrible thing.
♪ ♪ >> SMITH: I've been an AP correspondent in Rhode Island for 17 years, covering local and national stories.
Michael Flynn usually refuses to speak with what he calls the mainstream media, and most of the people close to him won't either.
But Rhode Island, where he's from, is like a small town.
And here I'm known as a local reporter.
>> I, I just don't think that people dislike Mike, I think they dislike the side he's on.
If they ever met him, they wouldn't dislike him, I can tell you that.
>> SMITH (on camera): So is this what Middletown High School looked like when you... >> This is exactly what it looked like.
(chuckles) It has not changed very much at all.
>> SMITH: Tom Heaney has known Flynn most of his life.
They joined the Army together, where Heaney eventually retired as a colonel.
>> 55 years we've known each other and we played Little League together, then we ended up in middle school together, and then high school, and then college.
The mischief that we would get into is probably pretty normal, you know, I know that, uh, a couple times that it, it actually involved the law.
And ended up getting arrested and put in jail overnight.
>> SMITH: The Flynns were Democrats.
His father was a retired Army sergeant, his mother was active in the Catholic Church.
Heaney says two institutions have been important in Flynn's life: the military and the church.
(church organ playing) >> One of the things I think that has helped, you know, having to deal with what they've had to deal with, is their faith.
They are very faithful people.
Probably one of the reasons why he was inspired to participate in politics is because of his mom.
She was very involved in the pro-life movement.
She was very active.
(organ playing) >> SMITH: When I started writing about Flynn, Helen always came up.
(on camera): Okay, look at this.
So this is Helen Flynn, Mike Flynn's mother.
She's vice chairman of Catholics for Life.
(whirring) She was politically active.
She ran for various offices.
She was the one who really brought politics into their life and into their family.
(on camera): She attacked her opponent in the Democratic primary, because he had the support of the ACLU and according to Helen, fully 90% of its efforts are on behalf of communists.
Helen brought all her kids into her political activities.
If she was doing political work, there were kids there.
(voiceover): At the age of 15, Michael Flynn was on the front lines of America's culture wars.
He marched with his family in the first national anti-abortion rallies in Washington, D.C. >> First March for Life, first, we were there, I was probably seven or eight years old.
And Mike was there, and a couple other of us were there, and we would go every year.
We always went around January 23, freezing our butts off, walking up and down Constitution Avenue.
And we were in parades and we would do parades locally.
We had this float and the float said life in all these different languages.
Catholics for Life was sort of on top of it.
You'd ride by people.
And most of them would cheer, you know, but you'd get people throwing stuff at you, I mean, it would get crazy.
Michael drove the floats.
Yeah, he was, he was old enough.
I was too young to drive.
But, yeah, Michael drove those floats many, many times all over the place.
>> SMITH: Joe Flynn works closely with his brother on political projects.
I've been in contact with him over the years.
But he's now stopped talking to me.
When my colleagues at "Frontline" called him, he reluctantly said yes.
>> Why did you agree to this interview?
I don't know.
I don't know the answer to that.
(laughs) I felt like if you're going to do a documentary, our side of the story somewhat needs to be heard.
>> SMITH: Joe Flynn wouldn't answer a lot of questions about his brother.
But he said the movement Michael Flynn is building today is misunderstood.
>> This country was founded on Judeo-Christian values.
I often think myself, you know, I think Helen would be proud of the activities that we're involved in.
I think Christians are very involved in the conservative movement.
It's no different than it was, you know, 30, 40 years ago.
You know, especially with, with Reagan.
(cheers and applause) >> There's a great spiritual awakening in America.
(cheers and applause) A renewal of the traditional values that have been the bedrock of America's goodness and greatness.
>> SMITH: Michael Flynn loves Ronald Reagan.
He quotes him constantly.
>> There is sin and evil in the world, and we're enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might.
>> SMITH: Reagan saw the culture wars and the fight against communism as part of the same spiritual battle.
>> We can do it, doing together what no one church could do by itself.
God bless you, and thank you very much.
(cheers and applause) >> SMITH: A war at home and a war overseas.
The two would become deeply intertwined in Michael Flynn's story.
>> As Ronald Reagan said, and I quote, "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to."
This is the last stand on earth.
(cheers and applause) >> I am a guy who's spent my entire career, really, thinking about the enemies that we are going to face-- principally overseas.
>> It was an impressive show of force as U.S. paratroopers filled the skies over Central... >> SMITH: He started out in the 82nd Airborne Division.
>> In the first era, it was communism in Central America.
And we had places in the Caribbean.
We had problems in Africa.
>> The four horsemen, forever, and so is Ronald Reagan.
>> SMITH: As a young intelligence officer, Flynn took part in the invasion of Grenada.
And worked with U.S.-backed right-wing forces in Central America.
When he went to Iraq and Afghanistan, his enemy shifted from communism to what he called "radical Islam."
(door slams) In Iraq, working under General McChrystal, he revolutionized counterterrorism operations to deal with the threat of Al Qaeda.
He built a reputation as a brilliant officer while serving as the head of intelligence for an elite covert force-- the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC.
>> My first awareness of Mike Flynn was probably in the JSOC when he joined JSOC as the J2.
JSOC was the premier command in the U.S. military, without question.
>> SMITH: Doug Wise is a veteran of the CIA who worked closely with JSOC.
>> I spent three decades undercover CIA as an operator, as a station chief, service in Afghanistan, the Balkans, South Asia, Iraq.
Chief of operational training for CIA, and ultimately, appointed as the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency-- Mike Flynn then the incumbent director.
Evil was my call sign.
>> SMITH: Wise was part of the invasion force that entered Baghdad and says he saw Flynn's impact in Iraq firsthand.
>> At that time in Iraq, they had built an operational machine in JSOC to literally triple and quintuple the number of raids and operations that the force could undertake.
Once they got that set in motion, it was lightning fast.
This was innovation of the highest order.
>> I went to Iraq in 2005.
It was hard and fast.
I can't even count, I lost count, we all did, probably did 150 raids in a three month span that summer.
>> SMITH: Jack Murphy served in one of Michael Flynn'S JSOC units in Iraq, carrying out these accelerated raids.
>> There were times where they had us rolling out the gate and I had no idea where we were going, and they were like, "We'll get the grid to you."
And then as we're driving down one of the highways around Mosul I'm having to type it into the computer.
Then we'd hit that target and then while we're there, there's more grids coming over the radio!
(laughs) The guys are already getting back on the vehicles, "Murphy, where are we goin'?
Murphy, where are we going?
I'm like, "Oh, (bleep)."
>> SMITH: Flynn says he streamlined intelligence vetting and empowered soldiers on the ground to make quick decisions on taking out targets.
>> You'd have the assault force in the air.
Another assault force, literally in the aircraft.
The initial assault force goes in, pull a guy off of the objective, they'd be interrogating him in the aircraft.
What was your function?
What was your mission?
Who's your boss?
>> SMITH: But Flynn also cut out traditional channels for vetting intelligence before acting on it, and Murphy and others say it came with a cost.
>> These guys would play a game, "Hey, hey, I'm not a terrorist.
But I know where a terrorist lives," and they lead you on a wild goose chase all over town.
Worse case, they try to get you you to go kill the uncle they don't like, you know, so... (laughs) These are all the things you have to be careful about.
(pounds on door) >> When you're covering these raids, you come in after the fact.
You would talk to Iraqis about it.
>> SMITH: Nancy Youssef is a reporter who was based in Baghdad during Flynn's time at JSOC.
>> They would say this person was totally innocent or this was a political vendetta.
But you're no closer to the truth, right, because one side can't tell you the basis on which they've conducted that strike, and the other side is telling you this was completely wrong.
>> At a certain point, it's like like the operations take over the intelligence.
And because we outstripped that intelligence capability, I think the intelligence we were launching on came to be, literally, a flip of the coin.
It became hit or miss.
Maybe it was 50% accurate.
What was the net result of hitting these civilian homes, what we would call dry holes, where we accidentally killed, you know, somebody's uncle?
>> SMITH: JSOC raids were held out as a success for taking out high value targets, despite the civilian toll.
>> The question is, okay, this was effective, it worked.
But so what?
We, we lost the war.
>> SMITH: After Iraq, Flynn was promoted to head of intelligence for the entire NATO force in Afghanistan.
His writings about that time show a growing conviction that the Christian West was locked in a civilizational battle with Islam.
>> We're in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people, Let us accept what we were founded upon, a Judeo-Christian ideology, built on a moral set of rules and laws.
Let us not fear, but instead fight those who want to impose Sharia law and their radical Islamist views.
There is no escape from this war.
Our enemies will not permit that.
We will either win or lose.
And at present, we look like losers.
>> SMITH: Jack Murphy remembers other soldiers who embraced worldviews similar to Flynn's.
>> Our platoon got together.
The chaplain got up and gave his little speech and told us that we were fighting a religious war and, "Make no mistake, men, this a religious war."
My team sergeant in Special Forces was an interesting guy.
And, I, I liked him.
Like me he had come from Ranger Battalion.
I listened to him.
I respected him, and he'd play this documentary and it was all like new world order stuff, and conspiracy stuff.
>> In the near future, Earth is dominated by a powerful world government.
>> And I remember watching it and just being fascinated by it.
I asked him to borrow it and I, and I watched it myself, I was like whoa, man, this is some crazy stuff and that was my introduction to Alex Jones.
>> Your new world order will fall!
The answer to 1984 is 1776!
>> Jeremy continued on this path and he was at the Capitol on January 6th with the Oath Keepers.
>> SMITH: Jeremy Brown would end up getting arrested and charged for his role in the insurrection.
He calls himself a political prisoner.
>> We haven't even begun to cope with the social repercussions, of fighting two wars, two failed wars, and at the absence of an enemy to fight, some veterans decide to fight each other.
And you hear them start talking about civil war, and, uh, talking about politics in the most dire sorts of existential, uh, terms.
That it's us against them.
>> SMITH: In 2012, Flynn returned to Washington, where he was promoted again... >> Flynn will now head up the agency... >> SMITH: ...to head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA.
But his increasingly politicized worldview put him at odds with the Obama administration.
Doug Wise briefly served as his second in command.
>> I show up at DIA, I find, you know, a Mike Flynn who's in conflict with his senior executive leadership team.
And part of that is because I'm not sure he really bought into the civilian leadership of the military.
>> You are known for, for your frankness.
>> People are saying he's brash, and that his leadership approach isn't good.
And then we start to hear the phrase "Flynn facts."
The most famous Flynn fact is, um, "Iran has killed more Americans than Al Qaeda."
And, at the time, people said, "But that's demonstratively not true," um, Al Qaeda was behind 9/11.
And, and he didn't back down from it, he stood by it, um, and I think that's really when this idea of Flynn facts took off.
>> Every analyst that ever briefed him came away with a Flynn fact.
Things that were not consistent with real facts, real intelligence, and common sense that Flynn passionately believed in.
That's what a Flynn fact was, and he had a lot of them.
>> SMITH: Flynn was forced out of DIA in 2014.
He left the military, and formed an alliance with Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.
For Flynn, the war had come home.
>> We must recognize that America has enemies in our homeland and abroad.
Radical Islam, metastasizing throughout the world.
>> I think we always treated these as far away wars that would have no second or third order effects on the United States.
>> Our way of life is in jeopardy.
Our very existence is threatened.
>> When I look at Mike Flynn, I think, those wars changed us, too.
>> We do not need a weak, spineless president who is more concerned about issuing apologies than in protecting Americans!
(crowd shouting) >> (chanting): Lock her up!
>> Lock her up, that's right.
Yeah, that's right, lock her up!
Exactly right, there's nothing wrong with that.
(cheers and applause) >> SMITH: After Trump's election, he made Flynn his national security advisor.
It was, in many ways, the apex of Flynn's career.
>> Our top story tonight, a lightning fast fall from grace tonight for President Trump's national security advisor.
>> SMITH: Flynn only lasted weeks before he was forced out after lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.
>> Michael Flynn has been forced out, but the firestorm over his resignation has just begun.
>> SMITH (on camera): I started reporting on Flynn after he got fired and was being investigated in the Mueller probe.
We thought he was probably in Middletown and I'm in Rhode Island.
I contributed to a story early on, and then it just continued from there.
His siblings launched a legal defense fund and they were administering that and doing PR for that.
>> I definitely think the family was persecuted.
Absolutely, they were persecuted.
It was difficult, it was very difficult, it was terrible.
>> SMITH: Flynn ended up pleading guilty to a felony.
But after Trump lost the 2020 election, he pardoned Flynn.
>> General Flynn recently pardoned by the president of the United States.
>> SMITH: After Flynn got pardoned, it really opened the flood gates.
>> Number one, President Trump won.
>> SMITH: He was fully and openly engaged in working to sow doubt about the election.
>> He can take military capabilities, and he can place them in those states and basically re-run an election.
>> SMITH: He suggested that Trump could seize voting machines.
He floated the idea of martial law.
He called it a coup in progress.
>> I mean, these people out there talking about martial law like it's something that we've never done before.
Martial law has been instituted 64-- 64 times, Greg.
>> I see the pardon as a turning point, it's the beginning of his next chapter.
Flynn championed bogus claims about ballot tampering and foreign interference.
He became a chief promoter of "the stop the steal" effort, which culminated in the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.
>> Michael Flynn is part of what I see as an extremist element surrounding Donald Trump.
>> SMITH: Congressman Jamie Raskin has examined Flynn's role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.
>> He tried to legitimate and validate the idea of imposing martial law.
The idea of getting the Department of Defense to seize the election machinery and then re-run the election.
So, Flynn played an important role in the outreach to the extreme right.
>> Flynn has been on our radar for some time, I mean, from the beginning.
>> SMITH: Denver Riggleman was the senior technical advisor to the January 6 Committee.
>> You've seen Mike Flynn's phone records?
>> We've seen a lot of phone records, yeah.
(bangs gavel) >> Meeting will be in order.
>> But what's interesting is we really didn't need Mike Flynn's phone records as much as, as his assistants.
>> SMITH: Riggleman is a former Republican congressman, and military intelligence officer.
>> What was most interesting, when you're looking at call detail records or text messages, is that there was a plan.
>> SMITH: The plan to overturn the election had been underway long before January 6th.
Our reporting shows that, after Flynn's pardon, people he was working with moved to obtain voting records.
And then produced an infamous report alleging voter fraud in Antrim County, Michigan.
>> So when you're talking about Antrim County, talking about fake data that's then presented as real data.
>> SMITH: And even though the Antrim report was widely discredited, Flynn's lawyer, Sidney Powell, used it in court to try to overturn the election results.
>> Then money is pushed behind that data into the separate social media platforms that say the election was stolen, it has this sort of veneer of respectability or technical acumen, right?
A lot of the individuals that were involved with Antrim County or other inspections, many of these individuals are directly connected to Flynn.
>> Multiple groups of concerned Americans came together because they all observed something incredible in the 2020 general ections.
>> SMITH: Phil Waldron served under Flynn in military intelligence.
He worked with the group that put out the report and used it to challenge the election.
>> This was included in the forensics report on Central Lake Township in Antrim, Michigan.
>> So you really had a multi-pronged attack on the American public.
And it's layered beautifully.
>> I don't deny that we've had elections.
I deny that we have fair elections.
>> SMITH: In his video response to our reporting, Flynn took issue with the term "election denier," saying it was part of a misinformation campaign against him.
>> They gonna try to bash us across the head and shoulders with every, every frame that they can put against us, and every form of dis- and misinformation... >> SMITH: He said he knows a misinformation campaign when he sees one.
>> I also have a level of expertise in these types of efforts, okay?
And I, because, because, having served on battlefields at certain levels, we would have misinformation, disinformation psy-op, uh, campaigns going on to get audiences, to get the, you know, the enemy to think one way, to get the friendlies to think one way-- that's a constant of warfare.
(cheers and applause) We're in a spiritual battle for the heart and soul of this country.
We will win.
(cheers and applause) We will win.
Nothing, nothing can resist the power of prayer.
>> SMITH: Leading up to January 6th, Flynn was working behind the scenes.
>> Say no to communism!
>> SMITH: And also headlining rallies and fueling protests.
>> We're inside the walls of the deep state.
And there is, there is evil and there's corruption and there's, and there's light and truth.
>> SMITH: During a day of rallies and protests in Washington in December 2020, he framed the fight in terms of God, patriotism, and politics.
>> Inside of this barricade, we're going to knock those walls down, okay?
We're gonna knock those walls down-- so be proud!
Be proud as Christians, be proud as patriots.
>> SMITH: Later that night, there was violence in the streets.
(crowd yelling) >> (chanting): USA!
(indistinct yelling) >> SMITH: Flynn was in Washington on January 5th.
>> This is January 5th.
We're about to go into another one of these constitutional dates, January 6th tomorrow.
>> SMITH: Michael Flynn was at the Willard and he was interviewed by Alex Jones.
>> Donald Trump will continue to be the president of the United States for the next four years, there's no doubt in my mind.
>> Well, you're about to give a big speech out here to this million person crowd.
>> SMITH: That same evening, Flynn, spoke to a very large crowd in Freedom Plaza.
His brother and sister and his son were up on stage with him.
>> In our DNA, we feel freedom, we bleed freedom, and we will sacrifice for freedom.
The members of Congress, those of you who are feeling weak tonight, those of you that don't have the moral fiber in your body, get some tonight, because tomorrow we the people are gonna be here, and we want you to know that we will not stand for a lie!
(rioters yelling) >> SMITH: We've seen the images countless times.
But looking at them now, two things still strike me: the camouflage and tactical gear, signs of military discipline and organization.
And the crosses, prayers and Christian imagery, both in DC and around the country that day.
Riggleman's team analyzed a vast amount of call data and messages from January 6th.
He told us that those two themes rose to the top.
>> This idea that this was spiritual warfare, it's not even an undertone.
It was almost right out and hit you in the face that this was religious warfare and really that is the baseline of this, is this good against evil, apocalyptic message.
>> Jesus Christ, we invoke your name!
>> I think a lot of these belief systems are baked in now to a massive part of the GOP base.
You still have new world order, global cabals, groomers, all the stuff that goes back to the protocols of the Elders of Zion and blood libel and just keep on going, right?
And so I believe that this sort of pushing, right, for more of a a Christian nationalist bent to our politics, I think, is something that's actually increasing, I think January 6th was a great practice run for some of these individuals on multiple fronts.
>> Our democracy's under attack.
We are under siege by a movement that has proven itself willing to engage in violence to overthrow our elections and our institutions.
I wanna see democracy survive.
>> SMITH: It wasn't until earlier this year that the January 6 Committee got a chance to ask Flynn about what happened that day.
>> General Flynn, do you believe that violence on January 6th was justified?
>> Can we have a minute?
>> Sitting in that interview with Mike Flynn and watching the investigators question him, there's no way this guy's gonna plead the Fifth on these questions.
>> Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified legally?
>> I said, I said the Fifth.
>> Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified morally?
>> Take the Fifth.
>> There's no military officer on earth that has an ounce of salt that would plead the Fifth to questions that are the baseline for protecting our constitution.
>> Do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in United States of America?
>> The Fifth.
>> That should tell everybody what they need to know about former general Mike Flynn.
♪ ♪ >> SMITH: I'm in Salt Lake City trying to talk to Michael Flynn, who's only increased in influence since January 6th.
He's on tour, regularly drawing thousands.
There are anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers.
There are election deniers.
There are some QAnon people.
There are some anti-government booths.
All these different groups are merging together.
Flynn has been working very hard to build this movement.
He's spoken at more than 60 events, by our count.
He is a huge celebrity.
He's treated like a rock star.
He really is.
>> We have America's general with us.
>> This is General Michael Flynn.
>> SMITH: Outside of his role mobilizing this movement, Flynn has become a player in Republican politics.
He's campaigned for candidates around the country, as one of the most sought after endorsements for MAGA Republicans, perhaps second only to Trump himself.
I wanted to ask him about his political objectives.
>> I think it's a no.
>> No, he's not interested.
>> SMITH: But his staff turns me away here in Salt Lake.
So we traveled to the state where he made his first endorsement after the January 6th attack-- Oklahoma.
>> I believe that the Lord was calling me to do it.
I did not hear the audible, thundering voice of God saying, "You're gonna run for the US Senate," that wasn't what it was.
General Flynn called me.
And he said, "You're going to run."
And it was in that moment I realized he's a general, and when he gives an order, the best thing to do is probably say, "Yes, sir."
>> I'm General Mike Flynn, I'm here with Jackson Lahmeyer and this is a great leader, this is a great man.
>> SMITH: Jackson Lahmeyer was a long-shot candidate trying to unseat a sitting Republican senator.
>> Thank you so much, General Flynn.
>> Absolutely, God bless.
>> General Flynn has just been a constant, "Do this, do that, stay encouraged, fight, fight, fight, just constantly giving wisdom.
You know, he's a living martyr.
He's a warrior, he's a hero.
And General Flynn is going to be a hero among heroes when it comes to United States history.
(horn blowing) (cheers and applause) >> God spoke to me and said Tulsa's a light to the nation.
And Oklahoma's a light to the nation.
It starts with Jackson Lahmeyer.
It starts here.
The Lord spoke to me and said, "Knight him," because I call him Jackson the Righteous.
(cheers and applause) >> Uh, Clay Clark, and I'm the person you want to talk to the least tonight, thank you.
>> SMITH: Clay Clark hosted this campaign event.
He co-founded Flynn's cross- country speaking tour.
>> General Flynn is one of the only, I would say, top ten most well-known conservative leaders willing to talk about the transhumanism agenda of Klaus Schwab and the Great Reset.
>> SMITH: Clark articulates a mix of conspiracy theories that vilify people, including Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab.
>> A top advisor for Klaus Schwab openly states that he can hack humans, he wants to end free will, he wants to eliminate the use of money, he wants to move to a one-world government, and no one's talking about it!
But General Flynn will.
And I think it's because General Flynn only fears the Lord as well.
>> There's candidates and then there's God's pick.
So let's pray this together.
Father, God, we come to you now in the name of Jesus.
>> Father, God, we come to you now in the name of Jesus.
>> And we pray for the candidates you choose.
>> And we pray for the candidates you choose.
>> It's a spiritual battle.
It's not a battle between Republicans and the Democrats.
It's a battle between good and evil, and you've got to pick a side.
And I believe we're gonna be successful.
>> And if you're not, what does America look like?
>> We'll go into a thousand years of darkness.
>> SMITH: Lahmeyer would not be successful in his primary challenge.
>> It is our calling to disrupt fake Christianity.
I'mma say that again.
It's our calling to disrupt fake Christianity.
(cheers and applause) And we're not gonna be nice about it!
>> SMITH: Reverend Doctor Jacqui Lewis is part of a coalition of religious leaders that opposes what they see as a hijacking of Christianity by figures like Flynn.
>> Mike Flynn is in a movement that is designed to impose a small minority of Christian ethics on the rest of the nation.
We are not going to allow fascism to hijack our love.
Somebody say amen.
>> Somebody say amen again!
>> SMITH: Lewis is troubled by Flynn's volatile mix of politics, Christianity, and conspiracy theories.
>> It is a battle for the soul of America, using the church as a tool, using a part of the church as a tool.
>> The vision of Christian nationalism is that we need to take the country back for Christian priorities, Christian values.
We need to make America Christian again.
>> SMITH: Samuel Perry is professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma and one of the nation's leading experts on Christian nationalism.
♪ ♪ >> My parents are evangelical.
I went to a flagship evangelical seminary training to be a minister.
I would, in many ways, describe myself as an evangelical.
I'm very much speaking and writing to my people.
Mike Flynn has emerged as a martyr and a mascot for the far-right contingent of the Christian nationalist movement in the United States.
Christian nationalism as an ideology sees threats both without and within.
And the primary enemy for Christian nationalism is not different religions, it is leftism.
>> This idea about Christian nationalism... >> SMITH: In his video response to us, Flynn took issue with the term "Christian nationalism."
>> They are projecting what they are on us.
And so this idea of Christian nationals, it's like we're a bunch of Nazis from world... from the 1930s or something.
That's not... that is so far from the truth.
I want people to go back to two documents.
One is the Bible and one is the Constitution.
And you cannot dispute those.
(cheers and applause) >> We need people all over the country to be willing to put on that full armor of God.
To stand firm against the Left's schemes.
You'll be met with flaming arrows, but the shield of faith will stop them.
>> (chanting): USA!
>> SMITH: The Christian nationalist message Flynn pushes was resonating when I attended CPAC, the big meeting of the nation's conservatives.
But Flynn didn't appear on the stage.
>> Florida's kind of like the breeding center for patriotism right now.
>> SMITH: I found him across the street with his brother, Joe, announcing the launch of a new initiative.
>> Operation Eagle Wings is gonna focus on nine key states.
>> SMITH: After the insurrection, Flynn and those around him immediately began talking about the future, and how to influence elections down to the local level.
>> To make sure that the errors and fraud that took place in 2020 do not happen again.
>> SMITH: Out of Flynn's 99 endorsements, we found that 80% have spread lies or sown doubt about the 2020 elections.
About two dozen were at the Capitol for January 5th or 6th.
At least 38 have used Christian nationalist rhetoric.
After the press conference, Flynn finally agreed to sit down with me.
>> I don't even know why I'm talking to you, honestly.
And I hope this is recording.
Is it recording?
I don't know why I'm talking to you, I really don't.
>> SMITH: You've been doing a speaking tour.
You're endorsing candidates.
You're very busy.
What are you fighting for?
>> I am fighting for our constitutional rights.
And, you know, in a big way, to save America, I guess, because I like to think about all of the people that came before us and all the sacrifices to create this great experiment in democracy.
You know, we're gonna lose it.
We're gonna lose it.
We're in a moment of crisis now.
Nation states rise and fall.
So, where are we?
Where's the United States in the, in the arc of history?
>> SMITH: During our interview, Flynn drew on a familiar tactic: attacking the media.
>> But AP is a horrendous organization, okay, and you've been, you've been attacking me relentlessly for no good reason, ever, okay, for the last five years.
So, you wanna know, what am I after?
I'm after trying to say, get, you know, get off this high horse.
The media has done such a disservice to... frankly, to democracy.
>> SMITH: A lot of people hear your rhetoric and they say you're a Christian nationalist.
>> What is that?
I'm an Irish Catholic.
>> I, I think we should skip that question.
He's an Irish Catholic general who's served 33... >> I'm a follower of Jesus.
>> SMITH: Okay.
>> 33 years in the military serving his country.
>> SMITH: Okay, okay.
>> That was a stupid question.
>> SMITH: It was?
>> Yeah, to ask of me because that means that you really have not studied Mike Flynn.
>> SMITH: Well, it's an opportunity for you to address it.
>> No, no, it's a, it's a, it's really... that was really a dumb question.
>> SMITH: Okay.
SMITH: Flynn eventually got so upset with my questions that he got up and walked off.
>> This is why AP... see AP won't this, so because of this interview, because of this interview, I will never talk to AP again.
That was dumb.
>> Why don't we go into another area?
>> That was dumb.
I'll never speak to AP again because of this interview.
>> SMITH: Okay.
>> That's, that's it.
I'm, I'm done, I'm don >> SMITH (voiceover): I've continued to correspond with Flynn but he doesn't really answer my questions.
♪ ♪ After the insurrection, Flynn moved to Florida.
He made it the base of operations for a well-financed network of organizations.
I've tracked these groups through campaign finance records and corporate and charity filings.
Some of them are non-profits.
Some of them we don't know what they are.
Those include America's Future, Resilient Patriot, Tower 1 LLC, There is also Digital Soldiers Media, which changed its name to Manasota Shores Real Estate.
So, I made a little map and drove to all of them.
Just to get a sense of what was happening.
This says America's Future's principal address 1460 South McCall Road.
America's Future is a non-profit group started in 1946.
Some of the people who have been involved with it are Phyllis Schlafly, who is a conservative firebrand, and General Singlaub.
Singlaub was a big anti-communist.
>> Number 13?
>> SMITH: Yeah.
>> I don't think we have a 13.
>> SMITH: Okay.
And then Michael Flynn became chairman.
I don't see a 13 anywhere.
It works very closely with the America Project, the largest and most active group.
Flynn's brother, Joe, is president.
I found a charity filing from 2021 that projected it would spend $50 million that year, although Joe Flynn told me it ended up being much less.
One of the groups Flynn is supporting is a place called the Hollow, in Sarasota County.
He cites it as an example of his slogan that "local action has national impact."
I try to check it out from the outskirts of the surrounding nature preserve.
(gunfire echoes) (gunfire continues) I'm hearing what sounds like automatic weapons... From not very far away.
The Hollow emphasizes its family-friendly activities.
It has waterslides.
It even holds weddings.
But I'd seen posts online about right-wing political events there, and it had offered weapons training for kids as young as six.
Michael Flynn himself was often there.
And I thought, what is going on here?
I wasn't able to get any closer, but my colleagues at "Frontline" managed to return for a tightly controlled tour.
>> We're in the cave.
This is the introduction to the kids, when they first get here, because their cell phones won't work.
And then, when they get into the meeting area, they'll at least have somewhat of a clear, uh, slate of a mindset.
It's General Flynn, and I think he's a important part of our country's history, and I think the future will show that.
>> SMITH: Vic Mellor says he started to work with Flynn soon after he moved to Florida.
>> The cross was actually General Flynn's idea, to, to do an outside place so they can have some services and stuff.
There's no way to argue with General Flynn.
I, I would say he's a genius with, with what he can do, with how he does it.
>> SMITH: Sometimes Vic makes the Hollow sound like a children's camp.
And other times, it's part of a high-stakes battle to save the country.
>> I'm worried that, you know, this country's gonna turn into another Venezuela.
This whole socialist, communist mindset of how people are equal, that's how they start the propaganda with it, but how does it end up?
>> They have a petting zoo, a water slide, they have a bouncy house.
It's a great place for kids.
But then they have the children learning to shoot guns.
Children as young as six.
>> SMITH: Carol Lerner is a local school board activist.
She became concerned about the Hollow after she saw Flynn and Proud Boys at an anti-mask event there that attracted hundreds of families.
>> It was interesting looking at Vic Mellor, his Facebook-- which now no longer exists, he scrubbed it.
Here we have Vic Mellor and his son on the steps of the Capitol on January 6.
He posts that General Flynn and his brother Joe visited the Hollow.
"There's a war going on right now.
I've pledged all our resources to Flynn in this battle."
Flynn's arrival here in Sarasota tremendously changed things at the Hollow, but even, even just broadly.
The Proud Boys got very involved.
They were kind of the work crew for a lot of these events.
This is a photo of General Flynn with James Hoel, known within the Proud Boys as J-Bird.
At the Hollow, a lot of them participated in the insurrection.
James Hoel, Scott, and Worrell were part of the Proud Boy group that broke through the barriers.
(crowd shouting) >> SMITH: Scott and Worrell both pleaded not guilty to federal charges.
James Hoel hasn't been charged.
Neither has Vic Mellor.
>> I'm, I'm proud of that day.
I am, I just am.
I'm, I'm proud Americans stood up for what's right.
I don't know, it was euphoric for me.
I had to be part of that.
I don't know if this has to do with the Hollow but, you know, know that's, uh... What I do here is a local, you know, just like General Flynn says, you know, local action.
And, and I believe in that 100%.
>> Flynn is putting money into local elections.
And the Proud Boys came out in force.
>> My name is James Hoel.
>> SMITH: For the recent school board elections, Proud Boys backed a slate of candidates.
They had begun showing up at meetings, and even the school board chair's home.
>> Beware of Dirty Shirley.
Shirley, come on out, Shirley.
We would like a redress of grievances with you and your illegal actions.
This is the line that we will die on.
>> That's right!
No to vaccines!
No to masks!
>> You see what's going...
I mean, you have to see that, right?
I mean, society is just falling apart, you know.
>> SMITH: Vic Mellor and one of Flynn's groups funded a PAC that put out ads calling school board candidates names like "baby killer" or "BLM and Antifa rioters."
>> The future America's gonna look back at what's going on right now.
This is what they're gonna talk about.
You know, maybe not even World War II.
And I firmly believe that.
We are at a testing stage of our country.
We just are.
We'll just see how the elections go.
If they try to steal it again, we will be at a new level of, of... we'll be unprecedented.
And then, um, I'm glad I'm in Florida is all I have to say.
>> We're on the battlefield that I believe is the most important battlefield, which is the local battlefield.
>> SMITH: In his video response to our reporting, Flynn explained his focus on local politics.
>> You don't want allow... to allow the enemy to choose the terrain to fight on.
The terrain that I have chosen to fight on is the local battlefield, the local terrain.
And I think that that's the terrain that will win the day.
>> SMITH: In Sarasota, the Proud Boy-backed slate swept the school board elections.
And Michael Flynn himself was sworn in as a member of the local Republican executive committee.
He'll be serving alongside a leader of the Sarasota Proud Boys, J-Bird.
>> Ladies and gentlemen, please stand to your feet and greet America's general, General Michael Flynn!
(cheers and applause) (rock music playing) >> ♪ We're not gonna take it No, we ain't gonna take it ♪ We're not gonna take it Anymore ♪ >> His whole life is really a story of, of culture war from start to finish-- from his mother, who really birthed him into this pro-life movement, up to becoming a foot soldier in Reagan's proxy wars against Marxists, to fighting the global war on terror against this radical Islamic threat, and to now, as a, a spiritual warrior.
>> And is this an awakening in the biblical sense?
Is this a spiritual awakening?
You bet it is.
>> SMITH: I'd followed Michael Flynn's holy war across many battlefields, from the culture wars of his youth in Rhode Island to the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, to here, under the revival tent in rural New York.
>> This is where our nation is.
We are at the edge.
Some of our country is already down into the abyss.
>> SMITH: In Flynn's version of America, the war has come home.
>> There is a spiritual war and there is a political war.
They are going on in this country right now.
(cheers and applause) >> Go to pbs.org/frontline.
>> We will not stand for a lie!
>> For more reporting about Michael Flynn with The Associated Press including key takeaways from our investigation.
>> His whole life is really a story of culture war from start to finish.
>> Visit the Frontline archive where you can stream more than 300 documentaries.
Connect with FRONTLINE on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and stream anytime on the PBS Video App, YouTube or pbs.org/frontline.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org >> For more on this and other Frontline programs visit our website at pbs.org/frontline.
♪ ♪ Frontline's "Michael Flynn's Holy War" is available on Amazon Prime Video.