FACT CHECK: Did Colin Powell Say That If He Was The Defense Secretary, He Would Court-Martial Michael Flynn?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims former Secretary of State Colin Powell said of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, “Were I the Secretary of Defense, I’d call him back to active duty — which is in the prerogative of the Secretary of Defense — and I’d court martial him.”

Verdict: False

There is no record of Powell saying the quote. The statement was actually made by Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson.

Fact Check:

Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI regarding his communications with a former Russian ambassador but later sought to withdraw the plea, Reuters reported. Trump pardoned him in November, according to The New York Times.

A Dec. 23 post on Facebook claims Powell, a former national security advisor and secretary of state, said that if he was the secretary of defense, he would call Flynn “back to active duty” and “court martial him.” (RELATED: Is This Statement A Real Trump Campaign Announcement About A Separate Inauguration At Mar-A-Lago?)

An internet search of the quote, however, showed no instances of Powell saying the statement attributed to him in the Facebook post. A search of his Facebook posts also turned up no matches for the statement. Powell does not appear to have an active verified Twitter account.

Powell’s former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, was actually the one who made the comment during a Dec. 21 appearance on MSNBC’s program “All In with Chris Hayes.” He also referred to Flynn as “a disgrace to the uniform” during the interview.

Wilkerson’s comments appear to be in response to statements Flynn made during a Dec. 17 interview on Newsmax TV’s “Greg Kelly Reports.” Flynn falsely claimed during the interview that President Donald Trump won the presidential election and suggested that Trump could use military capabilities to “basically re-run” the election in swing states.

Claims that Powell made the statement may have originated with a Dec. 23 article from the Palmer Report, originally titled “General Colin Powell drops the hammer on Michael Flynn,” that initially claimed Powell was urging the military to try Flynn for sedition. The article was later updated to reflect that those comments came from Wilkerson, not Powell.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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