Baker rebukes Trump power transfer remarks

Calls president’s comments ‘appalling and outrageous’

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER rebuked President Trump on Thursday for refusing to say whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the wake of the November 3 election.

In response to a question at a State House press conference, Baker criticized Trump without ever mentioning his name. The Republican governor said the peaceful transfer of power is what Americans rely on when they vote. “It is appalling and outrageous that anyone would suggest for a minute that if they lose an election they’re not gonna’ leave,” he said.

Trump on Wednesday was asked point-blank whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power win, lose, or draw on Election Day. “We’re going to have to see what happens, you know that,” he said. “I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.” Pressed on the issue, Trump once again referred to mail-in ballots. “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” he said.

Baker, who like Trump voted by mail in the primary, said mail-in voting “worked just fine” in Massachusetts, “the same way it worked just fine across the rest of the country.”

He touted the turnout for the September 1 primary, which was the first major election of its kind with the new vote-by-mail law.  About 1.7 million voters cast their ballots, breaking a 1990 turnout record.

Baker’s frustration was obvious when he cited the nation’s long history of following the will of voters even during contentious elections. Harking back to the four-way 1860 presidential election, Baker said Abraham Lincoln received 39 percent of the popular vote and 52 percent of the electoral vote. He said Lincoln’s election, at a time when the country was unraveling and headed toward Civil War, depended on the members of the electoral college standing up and voting the way their state voters had directed.

“And they did, immediately, on the day they were asked to do it. A huge part of this nation’s glory, to the extent it exists as a beacon to others, is the peaceful transfer of power based on the vote of the people of this country,” Baker said, his voice rising.

“Those of us who serve in public life will do everything we can to make sure that the people’s will is followed through and executed on, because that is fundamentally why there is a United States of America in the first place,” he said.

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

Over the past six months, Baker has often criticized the Trump administration and the president himself, usually without mentioning him by name. His strongest comments may have come in June, when he criticized the president’s leadership during the pandemic.

“At so many times during these past several weeks when the country needed compassion and leadership the most it was nowhere to be found,” Baker said. “Instead we got bitterness, combativeness, and self-interest.”