GSA Chief Issues Defensive Letter When Green Lighting Biden’s Formal Transition Process

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy arrives to testify in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on March 13, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy issued a pissy letter as she finally informed President-elect Joe Biden that she is ready to green light his formal transition process, according to a letter obtained by CNN Monday evening.

Murphy’s letter to Biden comes weeks after the President-elect’s projected victory and President Trump’s refusal to concede. The lack of Murphy’s ascertainment acknowledging that Biden is President-elect had restricted the President-elect’s transition team from contacting current administration agency officials and receiving millions in government funding that an incoming administration is entitled to.

In her letter, Murphy denied that she had been pressured by the White House to stonewall the President-elect’s formal transition. Murphy hit back at the notion that her decision to let Biden’s formal transition proceed was made “out of fear or favoritism.”

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts,” Murphy said. “I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”

The GSA chief also appeared to blame ascertainment rules for supposedly being vague and outdated.

“GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified,” Murphy said. “These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent jurisdiction. I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process. I strongly urge Congress to consider amendments to the Act.”

Shortly after CNN reported Murphy’s letter to Biden, Trump contradicted the GSA chief’s denial of facing pressure from the White House to proceed with Biden’s formal transition in a Monday evening tweet. The sitting president claimed that he “recommended” to Murphy that she issue an ascertainment.

Trump also vowed to continue his legal battles challenging election results (which have fizzled out).

In response to the GSA chief’s ascertainment of Biden’s formal transition, Biden-Harris transition executive director Yohannes Abraham praised the long-awaited move in a Monday evening statement.

“Today’s decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” Abraham said. “This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies.”

Abraham added that transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials in the days ahead to “discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”

Murphy’s decision to let her guard down on Biden’s formal transition process comes on the heels of battleground states Michigan and Georgia certifying its presidential results, which further solidified the President-elect’s victory.

Earlier Monday, three members of the Michigan State Board of Canvassers voted in favor of certifying Biden’s victory in the state.

On Saturday night, the Trump campaign was dealt another blow in its effort to delegitimize the election process when a federal judge rebuked its challenge to Pennsylvania’s election results projecting that Biden won the battleground state. Trumpworld has now lost dozens of rulings in several states as the sitting president’s legal team has failed to provide any evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Read Murphy’s letter to Biden below:

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: