The Philadelphia police detective reassigned after attending President Donald Trump’s rally in Washington — which ended with the president inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol — called Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor and a cabal operative” after he condemned the violence and publicly lamented an officer’s death.
“You’re a swap creature and fooled us all!” Detective Jennifer Gugger posted on Twitter on Friday, according to a screenshot reviewed by The Inquirer before it was taken down.
“You sold your soul to the devil,” she wrote two days earlier.
Gugger’s social media postings emerged Monday as the city’s police union came to her defense and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw pledged to take “swift and definitive action” against any Philadelphia police officer found to have participated in the lawlessness that took place at the Capitol.
“The PPD supports all lawful expressions of First-Amendment rights, but the attack on the Capitol Building went well beyond the rights of free speech,” Outlaw said in a statement. “I can assure the public that a full and thorough investigation will take place, and ask that anyone with additional information reach out to our Internal Affairs Bureau.”
Gugger, 51, was removed from her position in the Recruit Background Investigations Unit last weekend amid an investigation into whether she participated in any wrongdoing at the Capitol. A tipster had sent the department social media posts showing that Gugger had been in Washington for the rally. The tip to police did not include evidence that she had been inside the Capitol or had participated in the violence.
Gugger could not be reached for comment Monday.
Sgt. Eric Gripp, a spokesperson for the department, did not say where Gugger had been reassigned, but said she had not been placed on restricted duty.
On Monday, FOP President John McNesby defended Gugger, saying she had attended the rally on her day off and “exercised her First Amendment rights to attend an event.”
“We believe she has done nothing wrong and we await the results of a complete, internal review,” said McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, which, along with the national FOP, endorsed Trump in 2020. “We strongly condemn the violence and loss of life at the Capitol and hope those responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Until Saturday, Gugger worked as a background checker for police recruits. Part of her job included monitoring their social media posts. But Gugger has used her own social media accounts as a repository for increasingly virulent far-right rhetoric.
In October, she changed her profile picture to a reference to Q, the false theory that posits that Trump is fighting a secret war against the “deep state” and that Democrats are led by Satan-worshipping pedophiles. That same month, the FBI declared the movement a domestic threat.
She posted on Facebook from Washington last week, using the name Jenny Lynn, according to a screenshot reviewed by The Inquirer and wrote that she was drinking beers with “fellow patriots.” She hashtagged her post “#StoptheSteal,” a reference to another false claim that Trump was the rightful winner of the presidential election.
Friends Gugger had tagged also posted videos of the crowd, as it moved on the Capitol, with one describing the scene on the Capitol steps as insurrectionists breached the building.
And after the rally — which ended in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained amid the sacking of the Capitol — Gugger’s posts became even more vitriolic.
On Friday, when Pence tweeted that he and his wife were saddened by the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, Gugger, using the name Jennifer Traynor, replied with outrage and apparent references to the QAnon conspiracy.
“You’re a traitor and cabal operative and pedophile!” she wrote. “You preach of god and that god will judge you!”
Gugger is only the latest Philadelphia police officer to face scrutiny for offensive posts on social media.
In 2019, advocates with the Plain View Project published a database of officers in several cities, including Philadelphia, making racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive posts on Facebook. After its own investigation, the department benched 72 officers amid the probe, and 15 were ultimately forced off the job. Seven more officers were suspended for 30 days, the department later reported, and 148 faced lesser “command-level discipline.”
Then-Commissioner Richard Ross said at the time that the department had contracted with the law firm Ballard Spahr to determine which posts amounted to constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment, and which clearly seemed to promote racism, intolerance, or violence. Gugger did not have any posts flagged in Plain View’s database.
Gripp, the department spokesperson, said Monday it was too early in the investigation to comment on whether Gugger’s posts violated department policy.
“Each and every case is different,” he said, “and yes, there can be a very fine line.”