On Monday, the anti-Trump PAC Meidas Touch released a horrifying ad slamming Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA). The ad slams Murphy for refusing to sign transition paperwork for Joe Biden’s staff while President Donald Trump contests the results of the 2020 election. While it is fair to criticize Murphy for holding up a transition (which could be reversed should Trump turn out to have won the election), Meidas Touch engaged in horrifying hyperbole, accusing Murphy of treason, “sedition,” abetting “sex parties” at government expense, and putting American lives at risk.
When does such an ad cross the line into incitement to violence? You decide.
“Meet Emily Murphy, a political hack, a traitor, appointed by Donald Trump to lead the General Services Administration, the GSA,” the ad begins.
“What has Emily done? Rooftop sex parties. Emily was A-OK with alcohol ragers and rooftop sex parties at taxpayer expense at her government office,” the ad alleges.
The ad then attacks her as a “swamp monster,” claiming that Murphy “worked with Trump to prevent the FBI from moving its D.C. office space to help the Trump hotel across the street. She tried covering it up to Congress.” The ad suggests this constituted “sedition.”
Then the video finally addresses the issue at hand. “And now, Emily Murphy created chaos by unlawfully refusing to sign paperwork to permit a smooth transition to president-elect Biden, placing our lives at risk.”
Wait, how does refusing to sign paperwork place people’s “lives at risk”? Because Biden said so.
“What do you see as the biggest threat to your transition right now, given Trump’s unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power?” a reporter asked Biden. “More people may die,” the Democrat responded.
The ad concludes, “Emily Murphy is a national disgrace. Tell Emily Murphy to sign the transition papers now.”
In a minute and a half, the ad manages to accuse Murphy of treason, sedition, supposedly defending “rooftop sex parties” and “alcohol ragers” at taxpayer expense, and somehow making it more likely that people will die by refusing to sign transition papers.
Many of these claims involve blatant misrepresentation. The “alcohol ragers and rooftop sex parties at taxpayer expense” claim is blatantly false.
That claim refers to an incident with former GSA Associate Administrator Brennan Hart, who admitted to investigators that he escorted a female White House staffer into the GSA office in July 2017 after hours. He made drinks for himself and the unidentified staffer with vodka he kept under his desk and engaged in sexual activity with the woman, which culminated in oral sex on the rooftop of the office. This happened “on one occasion.” His employment ended weeks after this incident.
In February 2018, Murphy told administrators that she “often permits” her immediate staffers to drink booze in her office after business hours on Fridays. It remains unclear whether Hart resigned or was fired from his post, but he was cited for possessing and consuming alcohol on the job and for having sex on government property, The New York Post reported.
An Inspector General report stated the obvious: “Having sex in the central office building is not an authorized purpose for use by the public. Further, there is no law or GSA regulation that allows an employee to have sex in the building.”
It appears that Murphy disciplined Hart, whether or not he was fired for this incident.
While Hart abused his position, he did not engage in “rooftop sex parties” or “alcohol ragers.” Urban dictionary defines a “rager” as “a large gathering usually of highschool or college students where massive amounts of alcohol are consumed.” Making drinks for two people alone in an office does not qualify as a “rager,” and two people engaging in oral sex does not constitute a “sex party.”
Murphy does appear to have coordinated with Trump to prevent the long-planned vacating of the current FBI headquarters, and she may have misled Congress on that issue. These are serious claims and may put her in legal jeopardy, but they do not constitute “sedition,” which Dictionary.com defines as “incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.”
Finally, Murphy’s decision to delay signing transition papers may be controversial, but it is the height of hyperbole to suggest that it will cost American lives. Team Biden seems to think that Donald Trump’s presidency is uniquely dangerous for the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Democrats and their allies have acted as though the COVID-19 death toll is a “Trump death toll,” but the Trump administration has made key strides in fighting the pandemic, from restricting Chinese travel early on to private-public partnerships on testing, treatments, and vaccines.
The president has made conflicting statements on the pandemic (as have public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci), but it is frankly absurd to suggest that a short delay in the transition will cost Americans their lives.
The president has the legal right to contest the results of the election, and the election results remain uncertified until the states certify them next month. A delay of a few weeks will not stop Biden from taking office in January should the certified results make him the winner.
This kind of demonizing rhetoric may prove dangerous, however. In recent years, Republican politicians, candidates, and even voters have faced attacks and harassment. In March, a museum director posted a death wish for Republican voters. Her threat came amid a spate of politically-motivated violence, including a truck driver attempting to run down Republicans registering voters, a man sucker-punching a boy at a voting booth, and a man threatening Trump supporters with a cane sword.
Back in 2017, a deranged man tried to murder Republicans at a congressional baseball game practice, critically wounding Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Over the weekend, antifa agitators brought violence to a peaceful pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C.
This hostile climate is unlikely to fade should Trump leave office in January.
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— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) November 17, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.