There would not be many people who have heard of Emily Murphy before the presidential election that saw Joe Biden elected as President-Elect, nor the government agency she manages. But things are changing on that front as she hinders the transfer of power to the Biden Administration.
But Emily Webster Murphy, Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), appointed by President Donald Trump, which oversees the federal civilian workforce and federal government properties and contracts has suddenly become front-and-center of the presidential transmission.
She is not one of the Trump ‘legal men’ and women who might traditionally have been known about.
Murphy has refused to order an ‘ascertainment’ of the Biden electoral victory, echoing the President’s refusal to accept defeat, and has been criticized for not permitting a peaceful transition of power.
“She has a history of being subservient to President Trump,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia who heads a House oversight subcommittee on government operations. Connolly called on Murphy to “do the right thing” and “begin the Biden transition without delay.”
She has faced criticism before, however.
The hotel operated by Trump under a federal lease, being Washington DC’s old Post Office and the planned relocation of the FBI headquarters, which saw Trump intervene to halt the long-planned move, which was a move many saw as made to prevent the construction of a hotel on the J Edgar Hoover Building site which could compete with a nearby Trump Hotel.
Her involvement and reasons for it were duly investigated by a House Democrats and her reports to the oversight committee were the subject of criticism regarding the background to her actions with a comment that her statements were “incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with White House officials in the decision-making.”
By refusing to sign a letter permitting Biden’s transition team to start its work and access both federal agencies and transition funds, she has created a considerably greater controversy.
Her refusal to allow the Biden administration transition to proceed has prevented them from obtaining office space, performing background checks on prospective Cabinet nominees and accessing classified information which might be needed to respond to emergencies that the administration confronts when in office.
The controversy over the GSA’s ascertainment is now creating drama for an agency that most people would know nothing about, even though it is effectively the landlord to the US government and has a staff of around 11,000 and a $30 billion budget.
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