Michael Flynn to campaign for Montana Republican

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, will campaign in Montana for a Republican Senate candidate “very soon,” the candidate has announced.

Troy Downing, an Air Force veteran and one of the four Republicans vying to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in November, announced the news Friday.

“It is time to stand up for our #American Heroes,” Downing tweeted. “I am excited to announce that American Patriot @GenFlynn will be joining me in #Montana very soon. Details to come!”

Flynn is a retired Army lieutenant general and also served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama. He was fired as Trump’s national security adviser after it became public that he misled administration officials about his communications with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he’d had with Kislyak, and CNN has reported that he is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion by the Trump campaign. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.

Downing has tied himself to Trump throughout his Senate bid, including by pledging to back Trump’s plan for a wall along the US-Mexico border and supporting the Republican backed tax reform bill.

Kevin Gardner, Downing’s campaign manager, said in response to questions about the event that Flynn “is an American Patriot and combat veteran who has served our country for 33 years. He is coming to Montana to support Troy Downing, a fellow combat veteran, because he is the best candidate to defeat career politician Jon Tester.”

Representatives for Republicans Matt Rosendale and Russell Fagg, two of the other contenders for the Republican Senate nomination in Montana, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Montana Democrats relished the news, however, given that Flynn was forced to resign from the White House over questions surrounding phone calls he made to Kislyak.

“Flynn made headlines last April when he got in a bit of hot water for, well, lying to the Vice President of the United States and was then fired,” the party said in a blog post. “But the President continues to stick up for him, even defending him this morning. With no clear frontrunner in the #MTSen primary, Downing seems more than happy to ride Trump’s coattails through the primaries. The question is: will it work?”

Flynn had maintained a relatively low profile after his plea, but he did endorse a Republican California congressional candidate, Omar Navarro, earlier this year. Flynn appeared with the candidate at an event in March. Navarro is looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters in a solidly Democratic district that includes parts of Los Angeles.

Tester’s race has largely flown under the national radar, despite the fact that he is a Democrat running in a state Trump won by 20 percentage points.

A spokesman for Tester declined to comment on Flynn’s involvement in Downing’s campaign.