Michael T. Flynn, a former national security adviser, suggested that a military coup was needed in the United States during a Memorial Day weekend conference organized by adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, drawing criticism from political scientists, veterans, Democrats and a handful of prominent Republicans.
Appearing at the “For God & Country Patriot Roundup” conference in Dallas, Mr. Flynn listened to an audience member ask, “I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here” — referring to the Myanmar military’s overthrow of a quasi-democratic government and brutal crackdown on dissent, which some QAnon supporters have cited approvingly. Mr. Flynn replied: “No reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason.”
Many criticized the comment, including Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican who was kicked out of her House leadership position this month for criticizing former President Donald J. Trump and saying she would do everything possible to ensure he was not the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024. On Twitter, Ms. Cheney said, “No American should advocate or support the violent overthrow of the United States.”
Mr. Flynn — who suggested in December that Mr. Trump could invoke martial law to force new elections in swing states — responded to backlash to his remark by arguing Monday in a post on Telegram, a messaging app, that he meant the opposite.
“I am no stranger to media manipulating my words, and therefore let me repeat my response to a question asked at the conference: There is no reason it (a coup) should happen here (in America),” he wrote.
Speaking at the same conference over the weekend, Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, said that right-wing extremists were not solely responsible for the Capitol riot. The false idea that left-wing groups were responsible is popular among some conservatives.
Mr. Gohmert also minimized the severity of the riot — in which a mob of American supporters of Mr. Trump tried violently to stop Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election — by citing past attacks by foreigners: “Some of us think Pearl Harbor was the worst attack on democracy. Some of us think 9/11 was the worst attack. Some of us think that those things were worse attacks on democracy.” (President Biden has called the riot “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”)
A spokeswoman for Mr. Gohmert did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
He and Mr. Flynn both spoke in front of a logo that included the QAnon slogan “WWG1WGA,” short for “Where We Go One, We Go All.”
A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core found that 14 percent of Americans, including about one in four Republicans, believed in three central tenets of the QAnon conspiracy theory: that the United States is being run by a cabal of Satanist pedophiles, that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” to get rid of that cabal, and that a “storm” will soon “restore the rightful leaders.”