Troy Downing

Businessman Troy Downing gives introductory remarks as State Auditor Matt Rosendale looks on during a U.S. Senate debate for Republican candidates on March 22 in Bozeman.

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Troy Downing is bringing former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI, to Montana to campaign with him.

Downing's campaign manager said Flynn will be in Billings on May 6.

Downing, a Big Sky businessman, said on Twitter last week that Flynn is an "American patriot" and said "it is time to stand up for our American hero."

At the end of last year, Flynn reached a deal to cooperate with special counsel Robert Muller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about discussions he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to craft foreign policy before the Trump administration took over.

Flynn, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant general, was fired from his role as national security adviser less than a month after Trump was inaugurated after Flynn admitting to misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with Kislyak.

Kevin Gardner, Downing's campaign manager, said Monday that Flynn is an "American patriot."

"Gen. Mike Flynn is an American patriot and a combat veteran who served our country for 33 years,'' Gardner said. "He's coming to Montana to support Troy Downing, a fellow combat veteran, because he's the best candidate to defeat political career politician Jon Tester."

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Gardner did not take follow-up questions about Flynn's lying to the FBI or firing.

Trump as recently as last Friday has defended Flynn in tweets.

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Downing has worked throughout his campaign to align himself with Trump, praising the president in forums held around the state and supporting his policies, such as building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Before Trump was elected, Downing tweeted several criticisms of the then-candidate, but has since said he's changed his thinking.

The Montana Democratic Party jumped on the announcement Friday, saying Downing "seems more than happy to ride Trump’s coattails through the primaries" in a press release.


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