Only on 10: Flynn’s RI friends react to guilty plea

Middletown’s Michael Flynn, 58, is one of nine children who grew up surfing and skateboarding in Middletown and Newport. In 1977, he graduated from Middletown High School, where he was co-captain of the football team, and president of the senior class.

Some of Michael Flynn’s friends spoke to NBC 10 News Friday.

As part of a plea deal, Flynn admitted that a senior member of President Donald Trump’s transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.

Rocky Kempenaar, who grew up with Flynn in Middletown, said he believes the situation was blown out of proportion.

"I talked to seven people today and they all kind of said the same thing," Kempenaar said. "The first thing, they were mad -- mad he had to go through this, and the second part, they're glad it's all over for him."

Kempenaar and Flynn have been friends since they were six years old. The two were teammates on the football, basketball and baseball teams at Middletown High School.

"Best friends our whole life," Kempenaar said.

Others in Middletown who also know Flynn told NBC 10 it was surprising and sometimes difficult to see his name all over national news headlines.

Kempenaar agrees.

"All of the terrible things they said about Mike -- whether it was treason and he was going to work with the Russians, all of that stuff -- we knew it was a bunch of BS and it made us mad. Now it came out,” he said.

Flynn, who has now pleaded guilty to serious charges, spent 33 years in the U.S. Army before retiring after his time with the Obama Administration.

He later served as Trump's National Security Advisor for just 24 days.

Kempenaar believes there is more to the story.

"In my opinion, he was directed by Trump to talk to them and say, 'Listen, you know, the Obama Administration is going in one direction and we're going in another direction and we will talk when our administration gets in,’" Kempenaar added.

Now, he said Flynn's friends and family are glad it's finally over.

"We hope he can come home and spend more time with his family and friends and get on with his life," Kempenaar said. "That's all he wants."

Flynn is one of nine children who grew up surfing and skateboarding in Middletown and Newport.

In 1977, he graduated high school, where he was co-captain of the football team and president of the senior class.

Friends said he was an avid surfer and skateboarder, hitting the beach with a tight knit group of friends and brothers and sisters.

He went on to the University of Rhode Island, where he graduated in 1981 with a degree in management science.

Right after graduation, he began serving in the Army and became Lieutenant General. He retired in 2014.

A few years later, President Donald Trump appointed Flynn as a national security advisor. Shortly after, he reputation became marred.

“After over 33 years of military service to our country, including nearly five years in combat away from my family, and then my decision to continue to serve the United States, it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts,” Flynn said Friday in a statement. “Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

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