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Opinion | Trump’s Shredding of Civil Liberties Won’t Stop With Antifa

If Murphy, a conservative Republican, is telling the truth, political appointees at D.H.S. are trying to twist evidence to target Trump’s political enemies.

Now, Murphy is a problematic figure, and he’s given the administration openings to discredit him. This summer, he was reassigned after revelations that his office created intelligence dossiers on journalists covering protests in Portland. In August, Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said that Murphy might have provided “incomplete and potentially misleading information to committee staff” about D.H.S.’s Portland activities.

Murphy clashed with many of his colleagues at the department, including some who’ve since come out against Trump. Elizabeth Neumann, a former high-level counterterrorism official at D.H.S., has, like Murphy, accused the administration of minimizing the threat of white supremacist terrorism. But she described Murphy as a bully with “credibility challenges.”

Still, Neumann, who left D.H.S. in April, said Murphy’s account of internal demands to overhype the antifa menace rang true. Citing public leaks from the agency, she said, “D.H.S. as a whole was focused more on antifa because of the president’s rhetoric, not because the threat itself demanded it.”

If it’s the official posture of the government that the antifa movement constitutes a major security threat, that will influence how individual agents behave. Trump has repeatedly sent American law enforcement the message that members of antifa are terrorists who should be treated with extreme violence, and that protests against racial injustice and his administration are dominated by antifa.

There are many ways the presidential election could go sideways, leading to mass demonstrations over ballot counting. In the same Fox News interview in which he gloated over Reinoehl’s death, Trump was asked what he would do if his opponents “riot” on election night.

“We’ll put them down very quickly,” he said. All those who’ve demonstrated against this president should know that what’s done to antifa today can be done to them tomorrow.

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