Michael Flynn's family members file $75M lawsuit against CNN over QAnon video

Flynn's brother, sister-in-law claim they have nothing to do with QAnon, despite reciting QAnon pledge on camera

By Zachary Petrizzo
March 26, 2021 9:36PM (UTC)
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Former General Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s recently pardoned national security adviser, speaks during a protest of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election outside the Supreme Court on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Thousands of protesters who refuse to accept that President-elect Joe Biden won the election are rallying ahead of the electoral college vote to make Trump's 306-to-232 loss official. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Two family members of Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's short-lived national security adviser turned conspiracy-theory firebrand, filed a $75 million lawsuit Thursday against CNN, accusing the cable network of besmirching their reputations. This comes in response to CNN's accurate reporting on the Flynn family's recitation of a far-right, QAnon-associated pledge called "Oath of the Digital Soldier," which Flynn posted to Twitter last July 4.

Jack Flynn and his wife Leslie — Michael Flynn's brother and sister-in-law — claim in the 20-page lawsuit that CNN tarnished their reputation by reporting that the Flynn family recited the pledge, which featured the infamous QAnon slogan, "Where we go one, we go all" (often rendered on the internet as "WWG1WGA"). According to the lawsuit, "members of the Flynn family, including plaintiffs, took an oath to the United States Constitution, the same oath taken by members of Congress," although it far more closely resembled the QAnon oath than the oath of office sworn by elected officials.

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"Plaintiffs are not followers or supporters of any extremist or terrorist groups, including QAnon," the lawsuit continues. "CNN falsely attributed to Plaintiffs associations that never existed, actions Plaintiffs never took, including an oath of allegiance to QAnon, and views Plaintiffs never held. CNN's statements are materially false. Plaintiffs are not and never have been followers or supporters of the QAnon terrorist group. Plaintiffs never took or pledged an oath of allegiance to QAnon." 

Reached for comment by Salon, a CNN spokesperson declined to comment, as the network doesn't comment on pending litigation. Legal counsel for the Flynn family, attorneys Steven S. Biss and Jeremy Zenilman, didn't return a Salon request for comment on Friday afternoon. Biss would seem to have a less than sterling track record when it comes to filing litigation against CNN. In February, he was handed a major loss in court after filing a $435 million lawsuit against the network on behalf of another Trump-allied client, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. 

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As for the viability of the lawsuit and the Flynn family's claims that they have nothing to do with the QAnon movement, Mike Rothschild, author of the new book, "The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything," told Salon the Flynns clearly knew what they are pushing. 

"It's simply not credible that Michael Flynn's family members don't understand what the slogan 'Where we go one we go all' means or what movement it represents," Rothschild said. "Flynn, his brother, sister and son have all been vocal supporters of the QAnon movement, selling merchandise branded with Q iconography and raising money to pay Michael Flynn's legal bills through Q-linked fundraisers. The lawsuit's allegation that 'Where we go one we go all' originated on John Kennedy's yacht is false, and the oath Flynn and his family took online echoes a post from Q almost verbatim. Either they knew exactly what they were doing, or they simply parroted back something that someone else told them to do."

The Daily Beast's Will Sommer, who has covered the far-right conspiracy from its earliest days, commented on the lawsuit: "Big development here in the growing trend of people pretending obvious QAnon things are not QAnon. They just stood next to a key QAnon figure and said 'Where we go one, we go all,' how could anyone think that's related to QAnon?'" In a report published last December, the Beast noted that following the 2020 election Flynn went "full QAnon," diving into the darkest depths of the conspiracy theory.  

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Watch the clip in question above, via CNN. 


Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo is a staff writer at Salon. He previously covered politics at Mediaite and The Daily Dot. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo.

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Aggregation Cnn Conspiracy Theory Donald Trump Lawsuit Media Michael Flynn Qanon