Tuberville adviser resigns after report on role in stalling military promotions

The national security adviser to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has resigned after The Washington Post disclosed in a story that he presented Tuberville with the highly controversial strategy of stalling scores of senior military nominations in an attempt to stop a new Defense Department policy that helps ensure access to abortions for service members.

In an email to colleagues Tuesday night obtained by The Post, Morgan Murphy shared that it was his last day working for Tuberville.

“Today is my last day with Coach, the best boss I’ve ever had,” Murphy wrote, using Tuberville’s nickname, which comes from his former role as a college football coach. “It’s been an honor to work with each of you these past 2.5 years and I hope you’ll keep in touch with me.”

The Post reported Friday that Murphy had presented Tuberville with multiple options for trying to block the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy, which the senator opposes. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and some states began to ban or tightly restrict abortion, the military enacted a policy that reimburses travel costs and provides leave for service members who seek the procedure.

Tuberville chose the strategy of using his senatorial powers to delay military promotions that are subject to confirmation by the chamber. More than 200 promotions, which are typically approved swiftly with no controversy, have since been stalled.

“The goal was to get the secretary to respond,” Murphy told The Post for the story that was published last week.

Politico was the first to report Wednesday that Murphy has resigned. Murphy did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment on his departure. Tuberville’s office declined to comment.

Murphy told Politico that he thought The Post’s story “overstated” his role and that he resigned out of respect for Tuberville.

“He is the boss and calls the shots and always has,” Murphy told Politico. “I am, was, at the end of the day, a staffer. I didn’t take kindly to a perception otherwise.”

Tuberville’s tactic, which he began using in March, has drawn the ire of the Pentagon as well as Democratic Senate leaders.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has called Tuberville’s blockade “a clear risk to U.S. military readiness.”

This month, a bipartisan group of former defense secretaries — including two who served in the administration of President Donald Trump — wrote in a letter to Senate leaders that Tuberville’s tactic “risks turning military officers into political pawns, holding them responsible for a policy decision made by their civilian leader.”

Murphy’s role in presenting Tuberville with the tactic was part of a larger story focused on Murphy’s background. A former Navy captain, Murphy also is a former food critic who once worked at Vanity Fair and has made multiple appearances on the home-shopping network QVC.

Ben Terris contributed to this report.

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