It took four days after Election Day for the 2020 presidential race to be called for Joe Biden, but it’s taken far longer than that for the transition process to formally begin. One reason for that: A key Donald Trump appointee, Emily Murphy, administrator for the General Services Administration, had refused to sign a letter allowing Biden’s team, among other things, access to federal authorities and transition funds. It took over two weeks, but on Monday Murphy finally changed her mind. That didn’t mean people had changed their minds about her.
In a letter sent to Biden, Murphy tried to shoot down charges that she was a partisan, looking out for the man who appointed her. “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts,” Murphy wrote. “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.”
She also spoke a lot about herself, saying that she’d been the target of harassment and threats “online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely.”
Here's the letter. It's over. https://t.co/iLL7Nbarw9
— Simon Marks (@SimonMarksFSN) November 23, 2020
The letter came at the end of a tumultuous day. Murphy was supposed to appear before Congress, who had called on her to explain why she was dragging her feet on ascertaining Biden as the President-Elect. She didn’t show up. She did send word that she’d send an underling on her behalf, but not till next Monday. The Democrats threatened to subpoena her, but it only took a couple hours for Murphy’s conciliatory letter to surface.
The news was met with celebration.
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) November 23, 2020
But it was also met with exasperation. After all, this should have happened much, much earlier.
But the damage to our democracy from indulging Trump's post-election tantrum wont just disappear. We have a lot of work to do to prove that democracy can and does work for all of us, starting with relief and recovery. https://t.co/BQ65hXi9b6
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) November 23, 2020
About damn time.
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) November 23, 2020
This is welcome but entirely overdue.
We've got a public health emergency, an economic crisis, a racial justice reckoning, and a climate catastrophe to address.
It's time to put aside Donald Trump's politics of division and get to work. https://t.co/IzxwbHxoU3
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) November 23, 2020
A lot of people didn’t praise Murphy for doing the right thing. They admonished her for dragging her feet.
Hi there, @GSAEmily.
Your letter was asinine.
1) The 2000 election was not remotely an apt precedent
2) This election did not hinge on one state
3) The margin was not small
You refused to do your job. You are not a victim. This letter further reinforces your incompetence. pic.twitter.com/YjRw9YSq44
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@TheRealHoarse) November 23, 2020
And for whining.
.@GSAEmily squandered any traces of goodwill she might have earned DOING HER JOB by writing this whiny-ass letter. The lede of her future obit is already carved in stone: "…an obscure Republican official who undermined democracy for Trump while thousands of Americans died." https://t.co/kbA0VcQceZ
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) November 23, 2020
— shauna (@goldengateblond) November 23, 2020
Some wondered if the about-face came because Murphy was terrified to be grilled by the famously interrogative California representative Katie Porter.
"Ms. Murphy, I have Rep. Katie Porter on line one. Something about how she just her new shipments of whiteboards in."
Emily Murphy: "WHAAAAT? UMMM… TELL HER I'LL CALL HER BACK!!!" https://t.co/Q2XkvDGfDT
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) November 23, 2020
Others noted that Murphy never once referred to Biden as President-Elect.
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) November 23, 2020
She spelled “President-elect” wrong https://t.co/BqCfecFHvf
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) November 23, 2020
Although, some thought, that was pretty clearly intentional.
The letter says Biden can begin to access transition resources, but pretty pointedly does not say that he is the apparent winner of the election, which is the determination GSA would have to make for him to do so. https://t.co/rXg0oLjZSB
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) November 23, 2020
Grammarians, meanwhile, chastised her habit of using two spaces after a comma when one should suffice.
Can we talk about how many spaces she has after the periods? Looks like it’s at least three. WHO DOES THAT? https://t.co/9xAHG0xSOO
— Marc Malkin (@marcmalkin) November 24, 2020
Others suggested the rules of the land should be changed so a transition can’t be held up by a single bureaucrat.
One thing Murphy says in here that I don't think a lot of Democrats will disagree with is that the law should be changed so it's not the GSA director who has to decide whether there is a president-elect or not. https://t.co/ISWrzyBJNS
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) November 23, 2020
And there were jokes.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) November 23, 2020
Some pointed out that Murphy’s letter is the closest we’re going to get to a Trump concession.
But then, not long after Murphy’s letter was made public, Trump himself weighed in, with a semi-concession (that’s still not an actual concession).
…fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
“Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same,” Trump wrote at the end of a two-tweet drop in which, in much less formal or conciliatory language, he said he and his legal team will continue to assert voter fraud.
The outgoing president’s tweet, of course, contradicts Murphy’s claim that she acted independently.
GSA: Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts
Trump 2 mins later: “I am recommending that Emily and her team…" https://t.co/D962qKYYAO
— Salvador Hernandez (@SalHernandez) November 23, 2020
And though we’re bound to get at least a couple more klutzy Giuliani press conferences in which he baselessly asserts voter fraud while melting, let’s not lose track of the big takeaway here: Trump has to start packing his bags.
(Via USA Today)