With the Republican National Convention kicking off its four-day journey to the nomination of Donald Trump in Cleveland today, the issue of the day is national security. The Trump campaign has declared the day’s theme to be “Make America Safe Again” and one of the evening’s featured speakers is retired Army General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency who clashed with the Obama administration over its strategy for dealing with the terror group ISIS.
Flynn will have a prime speaking slot, likely right after Melania Trump, who will be introduced by her husband, the presumptive nominee. But in an interview Monday morning, Flynn said that while he’s excited to participate in the convention, he doesn’t see a role for himself in a Trump administration.
“Big night -- safety. Tonight’s about making America safe,” Flynn said outside Quicken Loans Arena, where he will appear Monday night. “My job tonight is to talk about the role of America in the world. To really talk about leadership -- American leadership. To talk about American principles and the kinds of things that we were founded on. It’s very exciting for me.”
Flynn served for 33 years in the Army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant General. Before taking over DIA in 2012, Flynn served in various intelligence-related positions within the army, including as director of intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command and director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command.
Flynn stepped down from his position at DIA in 2014, a year before he was scheduled to. It is widely assumed that he was forced out over clashes with the Obama administration.
Despite being a lifelong Democrat, Flynn’s name was briefly floated as a possible running mate for Trump. He indicated that he would be interested in the position, but in a series of interviews in July, he contradicted himself on his stance on abortion rights and at one point described himself as a “pro-choice Democrat” -- a move that, regardless of a flip-flop on abortion, made him politically unpalatable to the GOP voter base.
Flynn appears to have maintained a good relationship with the Trump team, though. He said that he has submitted his speech to the campaign so that they would know what was coming and received it back unaltered.
“They didn’t change my speech, which is pretty damned good,” he said.
Passing through a Secret Service checkpoint on the way into the arena, he said he was excited about being in Cleveland. “Last time I was involved in politics was in high school,” he said.
But when he was asked if he sees a future for himself in politics -- specifically in a potential Trump administration -- he replied that he does not.
“No,” he said. “What I see is a new direction for this country. This country has to take another direction -- we’re going in the wrong direction.”