Retired lieutenant general and former national security advisor Michael Flynn has a special counsel and grand jury exploring his dealings with Turkey. But he only has one follower on his secret Twitter account.
From 2010 until weeks before Donald Trump’s presidential campaign announcement, Flynn used a still-public personal Twitter account under a pseudonym, The Daily Beast has learned.
A secret social media presence is by no means nefarious. Former FBI Director James Comey has an anonymous Twitter account, which he used to like several articles about himself. Nearly every smartphone-enabled teen in America has a “finsta,” a “fake Instagram” where they upload less-polished photos, away from the prying eyes of parents and prospective employers.
But only one follower has been watching Flynn’s secret Twitter account, which The Daily Beast confirmed was authentic.
The account is listed under a pseudonym, though Flynn uses his real name on multiple other social media profiles across the internet. Flynn’s personal Facebook account, where he shares pro-Trump articles and anti-Colin Kaepernick videos, is not particularly difficult to find, nor is it particularly interesting. Flynn has made those political views known, in colorful terms, at campaign rallies and on his verified Twitter account where he has over 150,000 followers.
But his Facebook offers a clue as to where to find his less-public social-media history.
Facebook allows users to customize a URL for their page. But instead of putting his real name in his URL, Flynn opted for the jazzier phrase “zulutym,” which appears to be shorthand for Zulu Time, military terminology for Greenwich Mean Time. As is the case with most common words or phrases, the screen name’s correct spelling is already registered (on Facebook by a West Point restaurant), which evidently forced Flynn to adopt an inventive spelling. The alternate spelling “zulutym” appears almost nowhere else on the internet besides an unused Instagram with “MTFLYNN” in the biography, and an apparently anonymous Twitter account.
The zulutym Twitter account, registered in May 2010, shows just eight Tweets since its creation (though that doesn't account for any Tweets that were deleted after posting). Zulutym follows 38 people, the earliest of which were center- and right-of-center news personalities. Its first follow was McClatchy reporter Andrew Malcolm, followed by The Daily Caller, Newt Gingrich, and the self-titled “Conservative Snake Person” Guy Benson. Later, his following patterns appeared to swing toward more fringe or hard-right personalities, including Ann Coulter and talk radio host Mark Levin.
Zulutym followed Sen. Marco Rubio before he followed Trump.
Of those 38 accounts, only one — a technology executive who has previously spoken at the same conference as Flynn — followed him back. The lone follower did not return The Daily Beast’s Twitter queries.
For much of his time on the account, zulutym has been silent.
“who is winning in Pennsylvania???” zulutym tweeted within a month of joining the site, apparently in reference to the state’s then-ongoing Senate and gubernatorial races.
The account shows no tweets for the next four years, during which Flynn appears to have all but forgotten Twitter. Though he registered his official account (which currently uses the handle @GenFlynn) in 2011 and wrote two holiday tweets from the official account in 2013, both accounts appear to have quiet until 2014, when both became active again. Zulutym began tweeting military-related links.
“What is our strategy to defeat ISIS and to stop Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon?” zulutym tweeted in January 2015, apparently conflating the Sunni terror state with its bitter enemies in Shia-majority Iran. He included a link to a LinkedIn article, which has since been deleted. The solution to the U.S.’s military and diplomatic challenges was apparently not to be found on the career-networking website.
Zulutym also tweeted at Michael Flynn Jr., the general’s son and a one-time member of Trump’s transition team who was fired after fanning rumors about “Pizzagate,” a thoroughly debunked conspiracy that accused a popular Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant of procuring child sex slaves for prominent Democrats.
In March 2015, zulutym tweeted a picture at Flynn Jr. “The ability to speak multiple languages is an asset, but the ability to keep your mouth shut in any language is priceless,” the image’s caption read.
The tweet currently has no likes, although the younger Flynn has changed his Twitter handle or deleted his account multiple times. The most recent of these deletions occurred in January, after Flynn Jr. tweeted a picture of Trump and advisors working on a travel ban against seven Muslim-majority nations, which he triumphantly captioned “#MuslimBan,” contradicting the White House’s claims that he executive order was not a Muslim Ban.
The elder Flynn deleted his verified Twitter shortly after his son, although both have since reinstated their accounts.
An email address associated with the Twitter account did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment. Through a representative, Flynn declined to speak on the record for this story.