WASHINGTON ― By admitting on Friday that he lied to the FBI while he was President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn has further tarnished the reputation he built in the military, already marred by his behavior on the campaign trail, and made it almost impossible for him to hold high office again.
But he hasn’t lost his lieutenant general rank or the annual pension of likely more than $100,000 that he has been receiving since he retired in 2014 after 33 years in the military.
That’s because there is no obligation for Flynn to surrender those service-related privileges despite his new status as an admitted criminal, experts say.
“His retirement is protected” and his pension is intact, said Eugene Fidell, a lecturer at Yale Law School and former president of the National Institute of Military Justice.
Rachel VanLandingham, a Southwestern Law School professor and retired military lawyer, and Geoffrey Corn, a former Army officer and professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, agreed with that assessment in separate emails to HuffPost.
“Flynn could commit murder today, and be convicted in federal court, and still retain his retired general status with pension,” VanLandingham wrote. She said the only situation in which he would lose his rank and pension is if the Army were to decide to court-martial him for his behavior as a retiree or for some misstep while he was on active duty whose statute of limitations has not yet run out, or if the Army decided to review his rank based on misconduct during his years in uniform.
“But it appears that Lieutenant General Flynn’s criminal conduct occurred after he retired from the Army,” she wrote.
This makes his situation different from that of one-time CIA Director David Petraeus, Corn noted. Petraeus was convicted for mishandling classified information while he was on active duty, so his rank could be adjusted. President Barack Obama’s Pentagon debated demoting Petraeus but decided not to following high-profile appeals from figures such as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
“It is rare that a retirement grade determination is conducted for an officer previously retired from the U.S. armed forces,” the senators wrote in 2016.
It’s unlikely that any kind of criminal conviction…