General Services Administrator Emily Murphy reportedly has told associates that she is struggling with the decision to ascertain President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election and allow the official presidential transition to commence, CNN reported on Wednesday.
The people said Murphy did not anticipate being in such a position but has been put in a no-win situation with President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election.
However, as CNN noted, “Murphy’s stalled sign-off is one of the more confounding decisions made since the election, since it’s clear Biden won and Trump’s legal challenges won’t change the outcome.”
But those who have spoken with Murphy said she faces mounting pressure from both sides of the aisle and has even received death threats over the issue.
Sources close to Murphy describe her as a technocrat and policy wonk, with a lengthy career as a congressional aide and at GSA. It’s not clear what specific actions Murphy is waiting on before granting ascertainment. Sources tell CNN she is basing her decision on what she sees as the precedent set by the 2000 election, where there was not a clear winner for more than a month.
“My experiences with Emily have led me to believe she is an ethical and moral person, but I strongly disagree with her current decision not to ascertain the election,” said a former administration official and colleague of Murphy’s who had spoken to her in recent days. “I think she’s absolutely making the wrong decision. President-elect Biden clearly won. And there really is no question about that… It is wrong to delay, even by another minute, the signing of the ascertainment.”
Meanwhile, Biden’s team has made clear that there are serious implications regarding the coronavirus pandemic and national security if the official transition does not begin as soon as possible.
CNN noted that “Murphy’s decision not to ascertain the result has locked Biden and his team out of access to contacts with the federal agencies, funding to help ramp up government hiring for the new administration and access to classified intelligence briefings.”
The Biden team also does not have access to the federal government’s coronavirus vaccine distribution efforts. “More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden said Monday. There are also concerns among national security experts that a delayed transition could leave the government vulnerable to security risks, both domestic and abroad.
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