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 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.
Still, Murphy's stalled sign-off is one of the more confounding decisions made since the election, since it's clear Biden won and Trump's legal challenges won't change the outcome. Biden's team has warned the delay has real-world consequences to national security and their Covid-19 response.
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.
Murphy declined an interview request for this story, and GSA declined to comment.
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