Michael Flynn’s Lawyer Bills Are Being Paid by Trump-Supporter Donations Following Guilty Plea

Since Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on December 1 to lying to federal agents, his allies have expressed support and donated to a legal defense fund that his family set up months ago.

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller announced the charge against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about conversations he had last December with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. at the time. Flynn has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.

Related: Flynn could face lie detector and go undercover for Mueller

Two of Flynn’s siblings, Joseph Flynn and Barbara Redgate, established the Michael T. Flynn Legal Defense Fund in September. A link to the fund appears on Flynn’s Twitter profile, and his family members have tweeted the link.

“The costs of legal representation associated with responding to the multiple investigations that have arisen in the wake of the 2016 election place a great burden on Mike and his family,” the website for the fund says. “They are deeply grateful for considering a donation to help pay expenses relating to his legal representation.”

The website says that it will accept only donations from United States citizens and permanent residents and that all the money will go toward “attorneys’ fees and other costs related to legal representation.”

In the wake of the special counsel’s charge, Flynn’s family has said it has received an “outpouring” of support. Redgate, the trustee of the legal defense fund, tweeted on Sunday, “General Flynn and Our Family Are Very Grateful For Your Incredible Outpouring Of Love, Kind Words, And Support This Weekend. Thank You All!”

On Saturday, Joseph Flynn, tweeted, “We woke up to a huge outpouring of love and support” for the effort. That same day, another brother, Jack Flynn, retweeted a claim that the retired general faces more than $1 million in legal bills.

12_04_Michael_Flynn_defense_fund Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, leaves a courthouse in Washington, D.C., on December 1. He pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador at the time. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

Neither of the brothers responded to requests for comment on Monday, and a person at Jack Flynn’s company said he was unavailable to speak. Redgate could not be reached for comment.

“Financially, the legal fees are just crippling,” said a person with knowledge of the family’s situation, who requested anonymity in order to discuss private matters. “We’re talking seven-figure legal fees…. They’re very, very concerned.”

But while the Flynns expected the charge and his guilty plea to isolate him, the opposite has happened, according to the family source. “Once the news of the plea deal broke, he was reminded that he had a lot of supporters,” the person said.

One of those people is Johnna Beuerlein, a Trump supporter and small-business owner in Tennessee. Beuerlein said she has admired Flynn since meeting him briefly during the 2016 Republican National Convention. The day after the Mueller charge, within “five seconds” of learning about the fund through Twitter, she and her husband decided to donate $300 instead of giving each other Christmas presents this year. If more money comes her way, she will donate that, too, she said.

“He served our country,” Beuerlein said. “When we were down, he had our backs, so I feel like this is the time we need to have his back.” As for his pleading guilty, she added, “I just don’t believe he intended to do anything wrong.” She provided Newsweek with a receipt of her donation and a photograph that appears to show her meeting Flynn.

Another person who spoke with Newsweek, who in a Twitter message described herself as a 69-year-old woman in North Carolina, said she donated $50 over the weekend. (She asked for anonymity because of privacy concerns. She also provided proof of her donation.)

“I donated because the man is a patriot and is being used to ‘prove’ a lie! Anything to make the president look bad,” she said. “General Flynn deserves our help. He served us!”

She said that when she first heard about the fund a few weeks ago, she had decided against donating because she figured “he had more money than we ever thought about having.” But she later thought about how much her daughter’s child custody case cost their family. “I know how expensive that was for us,” she said. “I decided his attorneys could drain him of every penny he has,” and so she donated.

Many people in recent days have tweeted #IStandWithFlynn, a hashtag that originated in February or earlier. And at least one person has established his own effort to raise money for Flynn. A person who lists his name as Dylan Wallner of Dickinson, North Dakota, launched a campaign the day after the Mueller charge, through the website GoFundMe.

“General Flynn is a decorated service member and a true patriot to his country,” the campaign says. “General Flynn is being persecuted for doing his job, and the FBI plans to emprison [sic] Mr. Flynn for lying. We don’t know if he lied or misspoke, but we do know that the FBI is running a malicious financial attack on Mr. Flynn and his family to coerce General Flynn into making false statements. An American hero needs our help.”

As of Monday afternoon, that GoFundMe campaign had raised $100 of its $100,000 goal, from three donors. The person behind the campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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