By KATHERINE FAULDERS, ANNE FLAHERTY and BENJAMIN SIEGEL, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — 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.
Murphy has the power to decide — or “ascertain” — when election results are evident enough to trigger a transition of power, allowing the winning team access to career staff at federal agencies and internal government information including national security matters and plans for administering a COVID-19 vaccine.
Donald Trump appointed Murphy in 2017, and she’s so far refused to certify Biden as the election’s winner as Trump attempts to overturn the election result in court.
A White House spokesperson referred ABC News to the GSA when reached for comment.
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.
“The administrator remains focused on doing her job,” the spokesperson added.
Trump, responding to a Nov. 5 tweet related to Veterans Small Business Week, on Sunday tweeted: “Great job Emily!”
Congressional Democrats have accused Murphy of undermining the peaceful transition of power and could subpoena her for testimony on Capitol Hill to explain why she’s doing so.
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.”
Biden’s advisers have threatened legal action if the GSA continues to stonewall the transition, which is delaying access to classified information in addition to updates on national security and potential vaccine rollout plans.
As Trump continues to purge top members of his administration with whom he’s long been unhappy, one of the president’s most loyal aides and director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, John McEntee, privately threatened to fire those looking for jobs prior to the president leaving office, according to sources familiar with the private discussions.
McEntee, 30, is responsible for personnel matters not just in the White House but across the federal government. But many within the current administration, at least privately, recognize the reality that Trump lost the election and their jobs will end in two months. Some are casting a wide net — hiring television agents, speaking with various law firms.
When Biden takes over on Jan. 20, the country will be in the midst of a massive logistical effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across America. Vaccine makers, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Trump’s appointed vaccine chief, Moncef Slaoui, agree that Biden’s team needs that information as soon as possible.
Biden’s team has yet to receive briefings from the Food and Drug Administration on regulating potential COVID-19 vaccines or see the council of Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said on Sunday that his team plans to meet with vaccine makers this week, a signal they’re all prepared to work around Trump’s refusal to provide access to federal resources.
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