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Former GSA chief: 'Clear' that Biden should be recognized as president-elect

Former General Services Administration (GSA) chief David Barram said Thursday that it’s “clear” that President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE should be officially recognized as the winner of the presidential election.

"To me, it's clear that we should be recognizing Joe Biden as the president-elect," Barram, who was the GSA administrator during the 2000 recount in Florida, told CNN’s “New Day.”

Barram, who was appointed by former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBiden must compel China and Russia to act on climate A leadership menagerie of metaphorical scapegoats How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 MORE, said he spoke with Trump-appointed GSA Administrator Emily Murphy before the election in a “very cordial conversation” in which she asked about his experience in 2000. 

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He told CNN on Thursday that the 2000 and 2020 elections are “dramatically different.” In 2000, then-Republican nominee George W. Bush and Democratic nominee Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreHow Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 The information superhighway must be accessible and affordable for all American Rescue Plan: Ending child poverty — let's make it permanent MORE were 535 votes apart in Florida, he said.

“It was whoever won Florida would win the election,” he said. “And that’s all we were dealing with. And so it was not settled in Florida, and it was clearly not settled in Florida until the Supreme Court ruled. And then when the Supreme Court ruled, Al Gore immediately conceded.”

Biden, however, is tens of thousands of votes ahead in several battleground states and is expected to win the Electoral College with 306 electoral votes compared to Trump’s 232 — the same margin the president won by in 2016. 

Barram also pointed out that The Associated Press had not called the election in 2000 but now the AP “and everybody else in the world” except for Trump has declared Biden the winner. 

He said he was “very sympathetic” to Murphy, who has declined to recognize Biden as the president-elect as Trump has falsely claimed victory and promoted unfounded allegations of voter fraud. 

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“It's a tough spot to be in,” he said. “I just think she has to finally come to a decision and like I say, I'm sympathetic for her. I think it will make everything work when she finally does.”

Murphy’s lack of ascertainment of Biden as the victor in the election leaves the president-elect’s team in limbo to transition to the White House. Without the certification, Biden and his team do not have access to federal agencies, intelligence briefings or federal funding for salaries and travel. 

Barram specifically criticized Republican lawmakers and administration officials who have been hesitant to declare Biden the president-elect and have requested the court cases go through the system first.  

"These Republican senators and Cabinet members who are letting Emily sit out there twisting in the wind strike me as not courageous,” he said. “They're being not courageous in asking her to be courageous. It's just not right. She cannot avoid the responsibility that's hers to ascertain. But it sure would be better for a lot of us if she had a lot more cover.”