Emily Murphy, the official blocking Biden’s transition, has a record of working the system in ways that benefit Trump, ethics expert says

  • Walter Shaub Jr., a former director of the US Office of Government Ethics, accused Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, of being a “partisan loyalist” determined to help President Donald Trump.
  • GSA is the part of the US government that authorizes the start of a presidential transition. Murphy has not yet done so in the wake of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
  • Shaub made his charge against Murphy in The New York Review of Books.
  • This is not an outlier, he wrote, describing two other episodes of Murphy’s work at GSA that he said appeared to have been hand in glove with Trump.
  • Neither Murphy nor GSA immediately responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The General Services Administration (GSA) official who is holding up the transition of President-elect Joe Biden has a long history of pro-Trump partisanship, a former government ethics director said.

Walter Shaub Jr., who was the director of the US Office of Government Ethics between 2013 and 2017, accused GSA’s head, Emily Murphy, of seemingly “putting her loyalty to Trump over her duty to the American people” in a scathing article for The New York Review of Books.

Murphy, an appointee of President Donald Trump, is the GSA official charged with formally recognising the victor in a US presidential election, which allows a formal transition process to begin.

This nod from GSA releases resources to ensure a smooth transition for the president-elect, including, according to Shaub, $US6.3 million in funds, office space, and key briefings.

But Murphy, who as a political appointee Shaub alleges is held on a “tight leash” by Trump, has not budged while the president continues to baselessly dispute the outcome of the election.

Biden has continued to press ahead without access to the briefings and resources GSA can offer.

Biden’s chief of staff has criticised the decision, which he says harms the president-elect’s ability to handle challenges like the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaub alleged that Murphy’s stance was not an outlier but part of a pattern of partisan behaviour that has apparently worked the system in Trump’s favour.

Shaub gave two examples:

  • He accused Murphy of being part of a Trump administration power grab to weaken the civil service.

The Trump administration has been pushing to abolish the Office of Personnel Management and put it under GSA’s control.

Shaub characterised the move as a power grab that would put government employees under added political pressure.

The Trump administration abandoned plans to abolish the agency the day before Election Day, according to Federal Times.

  • He said Murphy axed plans to move the FBI’s Washington, DC, headquarters in a way that protected Trump’s outside business interests.

The FBI’s move from an ageing building in central Washington could have harmed the Trump International Hotel, Shaub wrote.

His logic was that, once vacated, the FBI building could have been turned into a rival business and hurt Trump’s bottom line.

Murphy met with Trump not long before the decision but refused to discuss it when asked about it by GSA’s inspector general, Shaub wrote.

Neither Murphy nor GSA immediately responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Shaub has also encouraged the general public on Twitter to call GSA and ask why Murphy has not released transition resources.

https://twitter.com/waltshaub/status/1328072329482670086?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

Shaub noted the contrast in Trump’s approach compared with the 2008 election, when Shaub was told by a George W. Bush administration official that he wanted to create the “nicest transition in history” for then President-elect Barack Obama.

“At this point, it is difficult to imagine Republican leaders repeating the words,” he wrote.

Read the full article here at The New York Review of Books.