President-elect Donald Trump has fired a member of his transition team for spreading the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that led a man to open fire at a Washington, DC pizzeria this week. Michael Flynn, the son of Trump’s national security advisor, was fired from the transition team on Tuesday, The New York Times reports, after he said on Twitter that the fake news story had still not been debunked.
Flynn posted the tweet hours after an armed man walked into the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria and fired at least one shot. The man, Edgar Maddison Welch, told police that he came to the restaurant to “self-investigate” the Pizzagate story: a false conspiracy theory that accused the restaurant of hosting a child sex trafficking ring operated by top aides to Hillary Clinton. Welch was arrested, and no one was hurt in the incident.
Both Flynn and his father, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, have spread fake news stories and conspiracies on Twitter, though there is no indication that the elder Flynn’s position in the transition team is in jeopardy, the Times reports. Vice President-elect Mike Pence initially denied that Flynn’s son had a role in the transition, but transition spokesman Jason Miller later confirmed that he was no longer part of the team. A source tells the Times that the younger Flynn had planned to work with his father on the National Security Council and had already applied for security clearance.
Lt. Gen. Flynn’s selection as national security advisor is not subject to Senate approval, though there is growing concern over his temperament. In February, he said in a tweet that “fear of Muslims is rational,” and has falsely claimed that Sharia law is spreading in the US. Like his son, Flynn also spread the Pizzagate conspiracy theory on Twitter.
“Someone who is so oblivious to the facts, or intentionally ignorant of them, should not be entrusted with policy decisions that affect the safety of the American people,” Democratic Representative Adam Smith tells the Times.