WASHINGTON • The son of the top national security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump was removed from the new administration's transition team after backing a bogus conspiracy theory that inspired a shooting incident in Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.
Michael Flynn Jr and his father - retired lieutenant-general Michael Flynn, Mr Trump's designated national security adviser - have both used their social-media accounts to promote fabricated claims, including allegations that aides to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were involved in a child-prostitution ring.
But the younger Flynn renewed his support for the baseless allegation even after a North Carolina man armed with an assault rifle arrived at a pizzeria in north-west Washington on Sunday to investigate the fictitious crime.
The shooter, police said, fired at least two rounds at the restaurant before he was arrested. No one was injured.
"Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story," Mr Flynn posted on Twitter just hours after the shooting, referring to a conspiracy theory circulated by right-wing groups that alleged - falsely - that the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant served as a front for child abuse by Democratic operatives.
The tweet was the latest instance in which the younger Flynn, 33, who has served as his father's chief of staff and scheduler, has propagated phony news stories and incendiary views.
His dismissal appeared to mark the first time that the Trump transition team had held one of its insiders to account for such activity.
The younger Flynn had a transition team e-mail address but is believed to have had a limited role, serving mainly as an aide to his father. The son appeared to have shut down his Facebook, where he had also posted incendiary images and material.
The older Flynn had also lent credence to phony claims that hacked Clinton e-mails contained code words for child exploitation. A veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the elder Flynn has never disavowed that claim and is poised to be among the most influential advisers in Mr Trump's White House.
Neither Flynn responded to requests for comment. On Tuesday evening, the younger Flynn's Trump transition e-mail address appeared to have been deactivated.