Calls are being made for Christina Pushaw, a top member of Gov. Ron Desantis’ (R-Fla.) presidential campaign team, to be removed after a secretive chat room where staffers promoted content with Nazi imagery was exposed.
Just last week, campaign speechwriter Nate Hochman retweeted a meme-filled video from an apparent DeSantis fan account that praised the politician with a Nazi symbol. Hochman was fired days later, although the campaign declined to answer whether the video was to blame.
As reported shortly after by Semafor, the video had actually been produced in-house and laundered through a fan account on Twitter to obscure its original source. Now, communications from a chat room used by the campaign on the encrypted messaging app Signal show how staffers praised the Nazi-themed video.
Prior to the controversy over the video, Kyle Lamb, the campaign’s director of research and data, argued that the footage “belonged in the Smithsonian.” Lamb was later laid off alongside dozens of other employees due to the campaign’s financial woes.
Multiple reports also indicate that a pro-DeSantis video that criticized former President Donald Trump for a handful of pro-LGBTQ remarks over the years was produced by the staffers as well.
While speaking to Fox News on Monday, DeSantis weighed in on the latter video but denied that he had any involvement in its release.
“These things get shared, or whatever—and look, I’m responsible for it. Don’t get me wrong,” DeSantis said. “But the idea that I was sitting there, like—oh, share this video? No. It’s a rapid response thing.”
Trump supporters, always eager to aid in damaging the flailing campaign of DeSantis, have since responded to the reporting by calling for Pushaw to be fired. Pushaw is a frequent critic of Trump and just last week accused him of scamming his donors into paying for his legal bills.
Podcaster Tim Pool on Tuesday expressed bewilderment at Pushaw’s continued presence with the DeSantis campaign.
“[H]ow ron desantis has not fired pushaw by now is absolutely beyond me,” he tweeted.
Right-wing writer Raheem Kassam also weighed in on the matter by mentioning Pushaw’s support of Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion.
“Well, well, well… Zelensky-supporting DeSantis comms amateur Christina Pushaw oversaw the campaign’s Signal chat group which led to the creation of their now infamous Nazi video!” he said. “Very Azov! Whoda thunk it!”
Others thought the leak to Semafor might have been retaliatory, coming from staffers upset over their dismissals.
“This story has the feel of staffers who were let go wanting to do their best to ensure other staffers are fired. There has been a lot of talk about Pushaw. If the campaign wants to oust her, they now have a stated rationale to do so,” said one user.
The secret chat room is far from the first controversy for Pushaw. In 2021, Pushaw was temporarily suspended from Twitter for engaging in “abusive behavior” towards a reporter. Pushaw also sparked outrage after tweeting out what she claimed was a “sarcastic” remark that invoked antisemetic conspiracy theories.
Pushaw seemed to scoff at concerns over the chat room in response to criticism online from Caitlyn Jenner, who argued that the DeSantis campaign was using “divisive tactics.”
“Meme videos? on Twitter dot com? SHAME!” Pushaw responded.
Despite the pushback, no indication has been given to suggest that DeSantis plans to fire Pushaw anytime soon.