Emily Murphy’s Plight

Why is making the obvious call so hard for the GSA Administrator?

Nine days ago, in my post “GSA Head Refuses to Sign Transition Order,” I noted that the career government official charged with the duty of certifying that Joe Biden was “the apparent winner” of the Presidential election was refusing to do her job and that “This isn’t 2000, where the outcome of the election is genuinely in doubt.”

Alas, we’re still waiting.

CNN tries to make us sympathetic to her plight with a feature titled “‘It’s a terrible situation’: Inside a government bureaucrat’s pressure-filled decision to delay the transition.

As the only obstacle between President-elect Joe Biden and the formal start of the presidential transition, General Services Administrator Emily Murphy is struggling with the weight of the presidential election being dropped on her shoulders, feeling like she’s been put in a no-win situation, according to people who have spoken to her recently.

This was never a position that Murphy thought she would find herself in, the people said. But as the government official in charge of signing off on the election result, President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election has thrown Murphy into the middle of a political firestorm.

Facing mounting pressure from both sides, and even death threats, the sources say Murphy is working to interpret vague agency guidelines and follow what she sees as precedent to wait to sign off on the election result, a process known as “ascertainment” that would allow the official presidential transition to begin.

As noted in the previous posting on the matter, I fully understand that President Trump’s tantrum has made doing her job harder. But she took an oath to the Constitution, not the chief executive. There’s simply no question—none—as to the outcome of the election. And there’s essentially no harm at all in allowing Team Biden to start the transition process while Trump exhausts his futile legal options.

Sources who spoke to CNN could not say whether Murphy has been in touch with the White House on the issue.”

She absolutely feels like she’s in a hard place. She’s afraid on multiple levels. It’s a terrible situation,” one friend and former colleague of Murphy’s told CNN. “Emily is a consummate professional, a deeply moral person, but also a very scrupulous attorney who is in a very difficult position with an unclear law and precedence that is behind her stance.”She’s doing what she believes is her honest duty as someone who has sworn true allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and the laws that govern her position,” the friend added.

She may believe that, but she’s wrong. She’s acting dishonorably.

It’s true that we’re in uncharted territory. In every modern election save 2000 and this one, the loser conceded the race quickly and graciously when the outcome became obvious. And, in 2000, Al Gore in fact conceded on Election Night only to awkwardly pull it back once it became clear the outcome in Florida was still in doubt.

But it’s simply absurd to rely on 2000 as the relevant precedent. In that case, the outcome hinged on a single state where the initial count showed a margin of a few hundred votes. This year, Trump would have to overturn the outcome in several states, all of which have him trailing by thousands of votes.

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.

Two sources close to the transition told CNN that Trump’s disastrous day in court last Friday had moved the dial forward, but days later there was still no ascertainment letter from Murphy.

The impending results from Georgia’s recount, which are expected to be certified Friday with no dramatic shift in results, along with other states beginning to certify the election are also factors in Murphy’s decision, these sources said. But Murphy has not publicly said what the definitive line will be.

“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.”

Indeed. Given how obvious the call is here, it’s hard to gin up sympathy for here as “an ethical and moral person.” Especially since she’s currently seeking employment elsewhere.

The top General Services Administration official who’s blocking President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team from accessing government resources ahead of his inauguration appears to be looking for a new job, according to a message obtained by ABC News.

Emily Murphy, head of the GSA, recently sent that message to an associate inquiring about employment opportunities in 2021, a move that some in Washington interpreted as at least tacitly acknowledging that the current administration soon will be gone.

[…]

A GSA spokesperson denied the account that Murphy was actively looking for a job, but noted that it wouldn’t be unusual for someone in government, especially a political appointee, to consider future opportunities.

[…]

And while it’s true that there’s often a reshuffling of officials after a presidential election, regardless of whether the incumbent returns, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., a senior member of the House Oversight Committee, insisted that Murphy reaching out privately about future employment opportunities “exposes the hypocrisy” of the Trump administration’s position.

“Here’s somebody who refuses to sign the letter of transition but is self-dealing at the same time,” he told ABC News. “That’s a de facto recognition that there’s an incoming administration, and it’s not called Trump — it’s called Biden.”

It’s just shameful all around.

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. reid says:

    She seems to be the anti-Krebs. He did his job admirably despite knowing that Trump would fire him. Murphy seems to be eager to have a job in hand before doing anything risky, which isn’t exactly a profile in courage. Obviously, Trump is the root of all of this idiocy, but sometimes we’re called on to do the right and difficult thing.

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  2. Kingdaddy says:

    A fine illustration not just of the importance of neutrality in the civil service, but also how Trumpworld either doesn’t understand the principle, or doesn’t care. What if the situation were reversed, and a Republican president-elect was waiting on the head of the GSA to start the transition process? Anyone who admits the possibility of that scenario, and still wants Murphy to stall the transition, is signing on to political total war, in which only one side can win in perpetuity.

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  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    It’s just shameful all around.

    Yup

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  4. Loviatar says:

    Is Administrator Emily W. Murphy evil?

    Administrator Murphy through her bureaucratic actions will probably cause the death of hundreds, maybe thousands, possibly 10s of thousands of Americans. I wrote almost 5 years ago on this site about the banality of evil, not the great evil, not the evil of a Hitler, Stalin or Mao, but the evil done through banal day to day actions.

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  5. Gustopher says:

    Why is making the obvious call so hard for the GSA Administrator?

    I can’t tell if this question is sarcastic. And I’ve had similar problems with yesterday’s subheading about cowardice, and previous statements about Mitch McConnell being hypocritical. None of that applies. These people are shameless opportunists, and Trump has demonstrated that you don’t pay a price for taking an opportunity.

    Why does she refuse to make the obvious call? Because she can. Because it hurts Democrats’ chances of a successful presidency, and gives her a feeling of power.

    Why do the Republicans in the Senate not recognize the election outcome? Because they can. Why do two minor officials throw a wrench into the certification of the votes in Michigan? Because they can. Why does Lindsey Graham toady up to a fascist? Because he wants to.

    When Republicans talk about a state legislature certifying a different slate of electors, they aren’t joking, or musing aloud, or trying to trigger the libs… they’re saying what they want to do, given any opportunity.

    The rot is coming from the head of the fish, so you get a few decent people holding firm — Georgia’s Secretary of State, for instance. But they’re going to have trouble rising further in the party.

    There might be one or two exceptions — Lindsey Graham might be being blackmailed by someone who claims to have proof he is gay, or something — but I think by and large the reason these people are doing shitty things is just that they are shitty people who feel enabled.

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  6. CSK says:

    Not that I’m excusing her, nor explaining the situation, but as as an aside, Trump truly seems to believe that she swore an oath of loyalty to him personally, not to the Constitution. I don’t think he’s ever understood this. He seems to think he’s Michael Corleone accepting the fealty of his men.

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  7. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    At this point, who would give a damn if Graham is gay? I think most sentient beings have figured that out for themselves anyway.

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  8. Jen says:

    After reading the CNN piece, I get the feeling that she’s one of those annoying contract lawyers who gets hung up on a single word and ends up missing the forest for the trees.

    She needs to get her head in the game and stop angling for a new position first, and do the right thing. Someone close to her needs to tell her in no uncertain terms that she’s damaging her future.

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  9. dazedandconfused says:

    Lotta questions begged in “…oath to the Constitution” for many situations and particularly this one. That may be a bit harsh.

    Question: Can Trump fire her? If yes then we are lifting our leg on the wrong tree. When the courts are done it will be proper to piss on this one, not before. Shouldn’t take more than a couple more weeks.

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  10. Pylon says:

    Murphy’s advice is likely coming from a lawyer named Trent Benishek, who transferred to be GSA legal counsel from the WH counsel’s office on Oct. 29. She should seek independent counsel immediately.

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  11. Joe says:

    And there’s essentially no harm at all in allowing Team Biden to start the transition process while Trump exhausts his futile legal options.

    This is the point Teve and I were going back and forth on yesterday. She is literally not required to designate the winner, but only to ascertain “the apparent winner.” It is binding on no one and impedes no challenge to the outcome. It is an invented problem to fit someone’s political narrative, and nothing else.

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  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    A fine illustration not just of the importance of neutrality in the civil service, but also how Trumpworld either doesn’t understand the principle, or doesn’t care.

    Oh they understand, and they care. And it ain’t just Trumpworld. An independent civil service is one of those small d democratic obstacles to oligarchy they need to eliminate. You don’t think Putin allows an independent civil service, do you.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    Why is making the obvious call so hard for the GSA Administrator?

    Because Americans are not the bold, decent, strong-willed individualists they think they are, but a nation of cowards, weaklings, whiners and punks.

    But that’s been obvious since election day 2016. Trump is a psychopath, and Americans are sniveling weaklings. Silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.

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  14. Joe says:

    @CSK:

    Trump truly seems to believe that she swore an oath of loyalty to him personally, not to the Constitution.

    Exactly so TF what? Trump believes all sorts of things. She is a lawyer. She should understand how this works without deferring to any elected official.

    Also, Jen, I an also one of those contract lawyers, and the use of the term “apparent” makes this call a no brainer. She isn’t lawyering here: she is dissembling (though, admittedly, some would challenge the difference)

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  15. Loviatar says:

    After being called out for yesterday’s false equivalency post, James Joyner burnishes his moderate bona fides by writing a post calling out Republican malfeasance. This reminded me of a classic scene from Casablanca

    Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
    Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much.

    James Joyner: I’m shocked, shocked to find that the Republican party are racist, misogynistic traitors!
    Sen. McConnell: Your judges and policy preferences, sir.
    James Joyner: Oh, thank you very much.

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  16. Teve says:

    @Joe:

    This is the point Teve and I were going back and forth on yesterday. She is literally not required to designate the winner, but only to ascertain “the apparent winner.”

    Are you sure that conversation involved me? That sounds like the kind of language lawyering that I typically avoid.

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  17. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    At this point, who would give a damn if Graham is gay? I think most sentient beings have figured that out for themselves anyway.

    I expect his SC base Republican base still cares.

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  18. grumpy realist says:

    Someone send this idiot a copy of Bush vs. Gore, stat. This woman doesn’t seem to have read the SCOTUS decision. Yah, that one, which said it wasn’t to be taken as precedent for any other cases down stream.

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  19. KM says:

    @dazedandconfused :

    Question: Can Trump fire her? If yes then we are lifting our leg on the wrong tree.

    So let her get fired! Show some freaking spine and professionalism! If she gets fired for doing the right thing because Big Baby whines about what a loser he is, Biden can rehire her for being a sane person in the face of increasing subservience to partisan madness. In fact, if she did fall on her sword like a patriot would, he’d likely take her back for demonstrating she’s the right person for the position.

    Why in god’s name should we let our country be damaged further because this woman doesn’t want to face unemployment for acknowledging reality and doing her job?! Why should more people die from a preventable disease, more people lose their jobs and irreparable damage happen to the trust we have in the system because she’s worried for her own ass? How freaking selfish to tell the US they need to suck it up so she doesn’t take the hit? Just for that – I hope POTUS can fire her so she’s out the door on Day One of the new Admin.

    Sorry for frustration but I’m so tired of people acting like I should care that folks who sold their souls have to pay the price. No excuses – get to work!

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  20. Teve says:

    Ha:

    “How do you get Trump to change a lightbulb? You don’t, he will just lie and say he changed it and Republicans will sit in the dark and agree.”

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  21. Barry says:

    @KM: And what’s worse, she will not suffer. If she does the right thing, there’ll be a number of people who would love to hire somebody with her experience and her publicy-demonstrated honesty and courage.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Oh, but that’s the entire farce — Graham being blackmailed over something everyone already knows, which Graham is terrified that people will know, and which ideally the blackmailer doesn’t really have evidence of.

    Something like: “You used my toothbrush in the morning, and it has your DNA on it.”

    Also, people do care. There was a deeply weird article about Steve Kornacki coming out… in Manhattan… in 2011… at 32. Written by him.
    https://www.salon.com/2011/11/16/the_coming_out_story_i_never_thought_id_write/

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  23. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    Of course she should understand that. I was just making a point about Trump. He literally doesn’t understand how the presidency works. He runs it the way he ran his own shabby fiefdom in New York.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    @Jen:

    She needs to get her head in the game and stop angling for a new position first, and do the right thing. Someone close to her needs to tell her in no uncertain terms that she’s damaging her future.

    Why do you assume she wants to do the right thing?

    The President, his lawyers and his supporters in the government are trying to overturn the results of an election. Why assume that she is caught up in it, rather than an active and eager participant?

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  25. Joe says:

    My bad, Teve. It was me and mattbernius.

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  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Why does she refuse to make the obvious call?

    Here’s another reason: because already there are many on the Democratic and nominally neutral side saying “we can’t prosecute, we can’t investigate, we have to go forward.” So basically what we are saying to all these careerists is that if you buck a Republican doing something sleazy, they will destroy you, but if you cater to them all will be forgiven if they lose, in the interest of national unity. But, go ahead, let your conscience be your guide.

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  27. mistermix says:

    I just wrote a post on Balloon Juice about an ED nurse in SD who has been working 6 days a week for months and has more courage in her left pinky than a room full of lickspittle Trump appointees. That nurse drives to work in a 2007 Impala with 207,000 miles on it. I’m gonna guess that the head of the GSA has a driver and security team, and I’m pretty sure that this nurse paid more in taxes than Trump did.

    There is no way I can generate any sympathy for the monster running the GSA, who will probably cause more deaths by slowing the ability of the Biden Administration to respond to COVID.

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  28. EddieInCA says:

    I was listening to Smerconish today, and Mark Halperin was his guest. That MFer said, and I quote, “All the things the President is talking about need to be investigated. And they should be investigated rapidly and with transparency and rigorouly…. or else 72 million people will think this election wasn’t fair.”

    And..

    “I’m against calling Joe Biden President Elect in a full-throated way.”

    WTF? WTF? WTF???

    How are Democrats supposed to actually compete when the narrative can be spun this way by the Washington establishment?

    Did anyone else happen to hear this today? Am I insane? (Don’t answer that.).

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  29. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    Why does she refuse to make the obvious call? Because she can. Because it hurts Democrats’ chances of a successful presidency, and gives her a feeling of power.

    @Loviatar:

    James Joyner burnishes his moderate bona fides by writing a post calling out Republican malfeasance.

    She’s a career government bureaucrat, not a party official. Her position is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate but she’s not supposed to be acting as a party hack.

    There’s plenty of Republican malfeasance to go around, but I don’t think this is it.

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  30. grumpy realist says:

    I’m employed in the federal government at present. The oath we take is still to the Constitution, not to the POTUS. (If anyone had tried to tell me I would have to take an oath to Trump I would have ripped them up down and sideways.)

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  31. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: My sense that she was at least interested in doing the right thing goes to the CNN article. She apparently had a call before the election, with the person who was in this position during the Bush/Gore Florida debacle.

    In a sign she sensed the post-election trouble awaiting her, Murphy held a call before November 3 with one of her predecessors, David Barram, who was in charge of GSA during the 2000 election, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the call. Barram, a Bill Clinton political appointee, eventually ascertained Bush as then winner of the 2000 election after the Supreme Court ended the Florida recount. The call was set up by mutual associates as a way for Barram to discuss his experience and the difficult position he was put in, the sources said.

    She’s getting hung up on what “ascertainment” is, which is, as @Joe: points out, more dissembling than examining a legal question.

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  32. Teve says:

    I can’t generate too much anger at this lady. I don’t have all that much evidence that she is evil. It’s easy for me to imagine that she could be in personal or financial situations that just make this too much to deal with right now.

    Tom Cotton is an evil piece of shit. Mitch McConnell is an evil piece of shit. This lady, I just don’t know much about her.

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  33. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “She’s a career government bureaucrat, not a party official. Her position is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate but she’s not supposed to be acting as a party hack.

    There’s plenty of Republican malfeasance to go around, but I don’t think this is it. ”

    James, I don’t follow your logic to its conclusion.

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  34. dazedandconfused says:

    @KM:

    I see it differently. I believe it likely she is under a direct order from a POTUS on the matter and the rage against her may well be misdirected.

    Hey, if I thought millions lives were at stake I might agree, but as IMO the courts should have this wrapped up within a couple weeks I judge that hyperbole. Two weeks from here still leaves a month and a half for Biden’s team to study the information. I advise taking a deep breath before asking someone else to fall on their sword. That gal is in a tough spot.

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  35. Jon says:

    Idle speculation … which side is more likely to inundate her and her family with death threats if she handles things in a way they don’t like? That may have an impact on her eagerness to make a call one way or the other.

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  36. Jen says:

    @Jon: Well, she’s already receiving death threats so I guess one would have to conduct an analysis of motives to ascertain that.

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  37. Paine says:

    She knows that her access to the right-wing gravy train requires that she stay on the Trump Train even as it goes over the cliff and plummets into the boulder-strewn rapids below.

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  38. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So basically what we are saying to all these careerists is that if you buck a Republican doing something sleazy, they will destroy you, but if you cater to them all will be forgiven if they lose, in the interest of national unity. But, go ahead, let your conscience be your guide.

    That. A thousand times that. This whole mess started four years ago with a letter James Comey sent because he was afraid of Senate Republicans. Democrats need to sow some fear.

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  39. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: ” Am I insane?”

    You’re listening to Smerconish. What else needs to be said?

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  40. James Joyner says:

    @Barry:

    James, I don’t follow your logic to its conclusion.

    She’s a career bureaucrat in a nonpartisan office. I don’t know that she’s even a Republican, much less working for the furtherment of the Republican Party.

    I think she’s just scared to draw Trump’s outrage. That’s cowardice, not partisan hackery.

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  41. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: Career bureaucrats have political beliefs. Some might even be nutty.

    At best, her motives are unclear. But she’s definitely acting like a hack putting party over country.

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  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Paine:

    That’s just it, though. She isn’t what one would consider to be on the inside track to further advancement in the right-wing-o-sphere. She’s essentially an ambitious career apparatchik, who was viewed IMO as being too timid to meaningfully push back against the White House – either with regard to the flawed lease for Trump’s hotel, the FBI building fiasco, et al – which is why she was installed as administrator in the first place.

    To some extent, I almost feel sympathy for the lady. She’s certainly being pressured by Benishek, who IMO was installed at the GSA precisely to stage manage what’s now happening and ensure that it did, and she has to be well aware that this is likely to be, more or less, the apex of her career. I have serious doubts that she would have been left in place in the incoming Biden administration, so her choices are basically get fired now or get fired later. She’s a minnow swimming in shark infested waters, but to be fair she also put herself into that position in the first place. Her best bet at extricating herself from it with any shred of reputation intact is to do the right thing, sooner rather than later.

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  43. Carol Y Lasley says:

    It’s unfortunate that so many people have to die because one person who was hired to be non partisan and they WON’T do their job. She is there for the citizens of the US and yet many more will die because she refuses to sign off that Biden is the certified winner and will be President come 1/20/21.

    Yet she is out looking for a new job! I wonder who would hire someone who obviously has not ethics?

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  44. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    After reading the CNN piece, I get the feeling that she’s one of those annoying contract lawyers who gets hung up on a single word and ends up missing the forest for the trees.

    Seconded. As a lawyer with tendencies to over-perfection myself this looks a lot like optimization paralysis. It’s important so it needs to be perfect. Given that the transition reveals government secrets to a third party, my first instinct too, would be to wait for official tally certification, not just probability of success.

    If you don’t have someone to slap you over the head and tell you “that’s good enough, send it out” it’s easy to get caught up in that mindset, especially if you’re an “ethical” person wanting to do the right thing.

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  45. dazedandconfused says:

    Harvard,

    Probably right about that, the only thing she might have escaped with is her honor. She can’t get the funds for Biden’s transition released against the will of a sitting POTUS though. Trump would fire her and install a complete toady who would immediately rescind that action faster than one can say “Rudy Giuliani”.

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  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: Considering that most of her employment opportunities probably exist on the right side of the current political pendulum, getting fired for expediting the transition of the most leftist administration evah may not be the best career move even if she does have the edge of at least having been fired by Trump.

    Having noted her caution and noting that she is serving the rule of law by not mindlessly conforming to convention, the nation would be better served if she would follow precedent.

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  47. Jen says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t know that she’s even a Republican, much less working for the furtherment of the Republican Party.

    She worked in the Congressional office of Congressman Jim Talent (R-2, MO), and also worked at the RNC. She’s a Republican, or at least was for much of her career.

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  48. James Joyner says:

    @Jen: That’s fair—although that was 22 years ago before she went to law school. Still, she’s not quite the career official that I had been led to believe by the WaPo piece that was the basis for my first post.

    Wiki describes her post-law school career thusly:

    Murphy previously served as counsel at the United States House Committee on Armed Services, where she specialized in acquisition policy and reform. She has also held roles at the Small Business Administration and at the GSA, where she served as the agency’s first Chief Acquisition Officer. Murphy served under three chairmen of the United States House Committee on Small Business. Her private sector experience includes five years in executive positions at a technology startup company engaged in federal contracting and three years as a government contracts attorney with two D.C. law firms

    So, both a traditional government bureaucrat and one who has come and gone. On the other hand, she was confirmed by the Senate under unanimous consent. Senate Democrats therefore didn’t seem to think she was a partisan hack.

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  49. Pylon says:
  50. Jen says:

    @James Joyner: Agreed. And Talent was more of a policy wonk than a flame thrower, at least from what I remember of him. Missouri Republicans have changed a great deal from the 1990s to now.

    Irrespective of her partisan background, I remain convinced that this is a case of a person not wanting to screw An Important Thing up, and she is engaged in some hair-splitting of terms and timing that is totally unnecessary. She’s made herself a target by parsing too much.

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  51. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Trump would almost certainly fire both her and her chief of staff, and then install Benishek as acting administrator, who would immediately rescind her ascertainment. (He’s there for 2 reasons – to pressure her into compliance and to replace her if she refuses to play ball with the White House). I would not be surprised if that threat hasn’t been explicitly communicated to her.

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  52. gVOR08 says:

    @Barry:

    If she does the right thing, there’ll be a number of people who would love to hire somebody with her experience and her publicy-demonstrated honesty and courage.

    She was damaged goods before this started. She’s been involved in Trump’s hotel and in delaying the relocation of FBI headquarters at his behest. The GSA IG found she had misrepresented information in the FBI business and lied about contacts with the WH. (We need a de-Trumpification program. It needs to include penalties for ignoring IGs.) She realizes she’s compromised in the reality based universe, and Wingnut Welfare probably pays better anyway.

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  53. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jen:

    True. It’s worth noting, at least anecdotally, that Benishek is the nephew of former Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI) as well. He’s a died in the wool party loyalist.

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  54. dmichael says:

    @James Joyner: 2 minute Wikipedia search: “Murphy moved to Washington, D.C., beginning her career at the Republican National Committee. She worked for the RNC from October 1995 to January 1997, serving as Assistant to the Director of Administration. She then worked as a staff member for Jim Talent while he served as Chair of the House Committee on Small Business from January 1997 to July 1998, before leaving to pursue a law degree.” She also tried to accommodate Trump’s desire to have the new FBI headquarters near his D.C. hotel and testified in a manner an inspector general found to be “misleading.”

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  55. dmichael says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to repeat information already posted.

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  56. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    don’t know that she’s even a Republican

    She started her career with the RNC. As I noted @gVOR08:, she’s otherwise compromised herself for Trump’s benefit. Your belief that people actually are what they’re supposed to be is touching. But how much quacking and waddling does it take to convince you a duck is a duck?

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  57. Loviatar says:

    @dmichael:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to repeat information already posted.

    Sometimes you have to. Whats that quote about a man whose determined to not see the obvious. James, Jen and a few others here are determined to not see the obvious.

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  58. flat earth luddite says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    If you don’t have someone to slap you over the head and tell you “that’s good enough, send it out” it’s easy to get caught up in that mindset, especially if you’re an “ethical” person wanting to do the right thing.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. In decades of playing Della Street to a variety of Denny Cranes (who all thought they were the reincarnation of Perry Mason), I was frequently required to administer the back-of-the-head slap and say, “No no no, boss, it does NOT need to be revised for the 32nd time. It’s time to send it out!”

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I’m sure you’re correct about this. Entirely plausible given the parties playing.

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  59. flat earth luddite says:

    ARRRRGJHHH. no edits for me today. Bad Toad! Bad Toad! (looking at myself in the mirror).

    Usually, the person receiving the verbal “DeNizzo) was usually a “baby lawyer” (1-3 year associate) who was having optimization paralysis. Usually triggered by the senior partner having a Trumpian melt-down. In the hallway. That could be heard on the next floor of the building.

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  60. Jen says:

    @Loviatar: Hey, hey, no need to attack me. There are degrees of this type of lackeyism. Just because I’m not ignoring the fact there are degrees here, doesn’t mean I’m “determined not to see the obvious.”

    She’s been away from partisan work long enough to have disassociated with it on her resume, but likely not in what she thinks and does. There are signs that she knew what was coming down the pike, and the fact that she reached out to an appointee of President Clinton’s for advice kind of goes against the whole “she’s nothing but a Trump supporter/lackey” thing that you are suggesting is so “obvious.”

    This is a person who has had a comfortable, lower visibility government career. She doesn’t want to piss off the Toddler-in-Chief–not only is that unpleasant what with the death threats and all, but she probably wants a job somewhere after all of this is over. Still, she knows what she should do…but doesn’t want to unleash the wrath of the nuts on the right, so she’s made herself busy parsing words.

    I am not defending her, she is the picture of cowardice in my opinion. James has said the roughly the same. I just don’t lump everyone in the same bucket of sycophancy as, say, the one Rudy Guliani currently occupies.

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  61. Loviatar says:

    For those who keep trying to give Administrator Murphy a “lawerly” out.

    Walter Shaub is an American attorney specializing in government ethics who, from January 9, 2013 to July 19, 2017, was the director of the United States Office of Government Ethics.

    No. @GSAEmily isn’t in a tough spot. She doesn’t have a hard choice to make. The standards are not vague. The law requires her only to ascertain the apparent” winner. It does not require her to be right. There is no harm in releasing the resources. People may die if she doesn’t.

    Much bipartisan effort went into passing the Presidential Transition Act and amending it 7 times to make it more effective. Members of Congress sought to protect the nation against threats when it is most vulnerable—during transitions. Then @GSAEmily
    brought it all crashing down.

    In the meantime:

    Sabotaging America

    “They aren’t sabotaging Biden, they’re sabotaging America – our people, our troops, our quality of life, our security. It is treason.”

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  62. Sleeping Dog says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Is most certainly correct that Benishek was installed to force her to do Trump’s bidding. She should know that she was now placed in a lose-lose position. She should have approved the transition, gotten fired and forced Benishek to renege the approval. Given her background, she could have walked over to K St. and signed on with most any of the lobbying firms.

    People to do weird things under pressure.

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  63. KM says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I see it differently. I believe it likely she is under a direct order from a POTUS on the matter and the rage against her may well be misdirected.

    Nope.

    Direct order from POTUS to do something shady to harm our democracy and hamper the next Admin for no reason but petty BS?

    ANYONE with a shred of decency would resign under those circumstances. She’s literally endangering lives with this nonsense. People are going to die because of this delay and that’s a cold, hard fact. This is endangering our national security and that’s a cold, hard fact.

    Tell POTUS where to stick it and resign else it be known you’re a partisan hack willing to help torch the nation to appease the Toddler. She deserves all the scorn being heaped upon her cowardly ass and everything karma serves up. I don’t care about her post-Trump job prospects or frankly anything else about this woman. I don’t care what weasley excuses she gives to keep on the wingnut welfare good graces. No respect for someone who claims “only following orders” when you know they’re up to no good.

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  64. Loviatar says:

    @Jen:

    There are degrees of this type of lackeyism…

    When people may die because of the decisions you make, there really is no difference if you make it willingly or reluctantly under duress. You’re still responsible for that decision.

    There are signs that she knew what was coming down the pike,…

    If she did not want the responsibility she should not have taken the job or resigned once the choices were made clear to her.

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  65. Jen says:

    @Loviatar: I agree with you on both of those statements.

    She’s devoid of backbone and a coward. If I were in the position to, I wouldn’t hire her solely based on her performance on this issue–it is one of those decisions that reveals character, and her character is sorely lacking.

    None of that changes the fact that I don’t think she should be getting death threats.

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  66. KM says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    who would immediately rescind her ascertainment.

    Can he, though? Legally, I mean, can he revoke approval once given and if so, for what reason? He can’t just go “Oopsies, no security clearance for you after all” with explaining why. What justification can he use since Trump’s court failures are blowing up any “evidence” they might cite?

    ReplyReply
  67. Lovatar says:

    Presidential Transition Act

    The GSA administrator officially determines the “apparent winner” of a presidential election. If it is not the incumbent president, the winner can access federal agencies and transition funds. There are no firm rules on how the GSA determines the president-elect. Typically, the GSA chief might make the decision after reliable news organizations have declared the winner or following a concession by the loser.

    Contrary to James’ title and framing, Administrator Murphy doesn’t have a plight she just has to do her damm job. Tell me again how this is not a calculated choice made by a partisan Republican.

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  68. dazedandconfused says:

    @KM:

    KM,

    If four years of the Trump administration teaches us anything, it’s that a thing being illegal doesn’t preclude it from happening.

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  69. Unsympathetic says:

    As always, the problem is Republican snowflakes.

    She’s afraid of what, exactly? How Republicans Might Feel If She Did Her Job? News flash: They’re going to hate her no matter what she does….. because the Republican dear leaders have lied regarding both her responsibilities and her actual role.

    ReplyReply
  70. Teve says:

    @KM:

    Tell POTUS where to stick it and resign

    it’s very easy to tell other people to do these consequential things.

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  71. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The thing that tells me that she’s an apparatchik instead of a player is that she doesn’t seem to have given any thought to an exit strategy. She’s functioning as if she wants to hang on to her job, which is frankly ludicrous under any circumstances. You’d think she’d have known better.

    Resumes and calls for lifeboats have been going out from this administration for months now – indeed while I think he’s an honorable guy, I also believe that to some extent we just witnessed Chris Krebs exit strategy play out on national television. He’ll have his choice of offers lined up by Monday. Anybody who plays this game professionally understands that nothing is permanent and there is a time (well before inauguration day) when one must start looking for the next gig / place to land. Yet Little Miss Moffet here is seemingly functioning as though she somehow planned to retire from GSA one day. It frankly screams rube.

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  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @KM:

    Sure. He’s a clever enough attorney to dream up some appreciably functional justification premised on impropriety or continuing court challenges to make it work. Dems would certainly have the ability to seek relief in the courts, but barring an order from the court estopping implementation of his order, it would remain in effect in the interim and that would give the administration what it’s really after here – gumming up the works of transition for as long as possible / as long as they can reasonably get away with it. They’d eventually lose, but the time lost to Biden’s transition until then wouldn’t be recoverable.

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  73. An Interested Party says:

    It frankly screams rube.

    Well, that does describe Trump’s base…

    ReplyReply
  74. Emilio says:

    I would ask her when will she feel Biden is the winner before or after Biden takes the oath.

    ReplyReply
  75. dazedandconfused says:

    Caught in interview with one of Emily’s predecessors on the tube tonight. He opined that she is being scape goated. The cabinet secretaries are pretending they can’t allow Biden’s team access because of her, but in fact there is nothing which prevents them from doing so without her say-so. They are blocking Biden
    s access because they are afraid of Trump. They do not need her permission. The press has fallen for this fallacy and is attacking Emily, as hoped.

    I wouldn’t defend her if she continues to block after the courts are done tossing out the claims, and by the look of it the Georgia recount will be done before then. Until that is cleared up she shouldn’t be judged.

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  76. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Yet Little Miss Moffet here is seemingly functioning as though she somehow planned to retire from GSA one day. It frankly screams rube.

    This. Nobody is arguing that she is right either morally or legally. Shaub has the right of it, no doubt there (but then I seriously doubt she is getting her department advice from him).

    It just seems more of a case of a complete meltdown of a mid-level apparatchick under unexpected and unprecedented pressure to me than the actions of a sinister Republican agent out to drown democracy in the bathtub.

    This does not even qualify as The Banality of Evil (as that would imply that you’re just doing your job even if it is a terrible one). It’s just the hum-dum banal case of someone promoted beyond her capacity to cope.

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  77. Jen says:

    She might also want to stick around to cover up her own malfeasance. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of the sudden focus on GSA.

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  78. KM says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    If that’s true, then why doesn’t she say that? If they don’t need the letter, then it’s easy to CYA and point out its the OTHER cabinet secretaries being jerks. Hell, she can even be subtle in through shade if she’s worried about still having to work with these people.

    Again, it’s on her to do her job. If her job is granting Biden’s team access via the letter, than do it. If it’s pointing out her dept has nothing to do with the lack of access and she’s taking the fall, than she needs to speak up so the work gets done. What’s not her job is protecting the fee-fees of Trump or the cabinet secretaries and since nobody’s gonna hire her on either side after this crap, she might as go out not the villain.

    ReplyReply
  79. Loviatar says:

    Administrator Murphy Shows ‘Remarkable Lack of Curiosity’ About Foreign Spending at Trump’s D.C. Hotel

    “The only thing I know is what I’ve read in the paper,” the Trump appointee responded when asked about the amount of money foreign governments have spent at the Old Post Office Building, which is owned by the federal government and leased to the Trump Organization.

    “This is a remarkable lack of curiosity on the part of GSA,” a visibly perturbed Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said in response to Murphy.

    Tell me again how these are not a calculated choices made by a partisan Republican.

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  80. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Loviatar: Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

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  81. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @KM:

    I wouldn’t say the ascertainment letter so much grants access as it releases a set of assets and processes intended to facilitate a smooth transition, for example access to assigned government office space, transition funding, and access to streamlined security clearance processes (this is the 900 pound gorilla in the room). The thing that is preventing incumbent agency personnel from speaking with their incoming counterparts and campaign staff isn’t GSA – it’s the individual secretaries issuing blanket diktats barring their personnel from engaging.

    They’re both problematic, but if I had to single out one piece of this mess that will cause serious problems, it would be the security clearances. A huge swath of these incoming folks will need those clearances to be adjudicated and in place from day one. Without those, they’ll be crippled with respect to being able to do their jobs, and the process under normal procedures requires months. There are special processes in place to get the clearances completed for these folks on an expedited basis, but until she signs off on ascertainment, those processes are off limits and can not begin. For those to be completed in time, the situation can’t drag out much further. It has to be resolved sooner rather than later.

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  82. Loviatar says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

    I’m tired of seeing this quote, particularly when it comes to life and death issues. In my book killing someone through incompetence, stupidity or ignorance is almost on the same level as killing them through malice. Because really, does it make a difference to the person who died?

    If you can’t do the job, don’t take the job or resign.

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  83. james says:

    @reid: Its very simple….the person….burger loving …will need a by pass….willing to throw democracy under a bus….should in fact , realise….if thats the case…she will be executed….

    ReplyReply
  84. Brenda1973 says:

    @gVOR08: NO they don’t care. They’re Sunburnt Red and don’t even care about his obvious election meddling. I care but I’m a blue dot in a sea of Red!!

    ReplyReply
  85. Andrew Jackso says:

    He probably has not come to grips with his sexuality and that accounts for the excessive anger and rancour

    ReplyReply

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