Head of government agency under pressure to let transition proceed

The head of an obscure federal agency that is holding up the presidential transition knew well before Election Day that she might soon have a messy situation on her hands.

Prior to Nov. 3, Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, held a Zoom call with Dave Barram, the man who was in her shoes 20 years earlier.

The conversation, set up by mutual friends, was a chance for Barram, 77, to tell Murphy a little about his torturous experience with “ascertainment” — the task of determining the expected winner of the presidential election, which launches the official transition process.

Barram led the GSA during the 2000 White House race between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore, which was decided by a few hundred votes in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in more than a month after Election Day.

“I told her, ‘I’m looking at you and I can tell you want to do the right thing,’” recalled Barram, who declined to reveal any details of what Murphy told him. “I’ll tell you what my mother told me: ‘If you do the right thing, then all you have to do is live with the consequences

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