Baker slams Trump for stalling transition

Calls Justice Department involvement ‘wildly inappropriate’

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER strongly criticized President Trump on Tuesday for stalling an orderly presidential transition process at a time when the nation is entering a critical period in the fight against COVID-19.

“I can’t think of a worse time to stall a transition than amid a deadly pandemic,” Baker said at a State House press conference. “What this president is doing at this point in time is not in the best interest of this country. The administration needs to move forward and cooperate with the president-elect’s transition team immediately.”

Trump appears to be doing just the opposite. The president has refused to concede, his legal team is challenging election results in a number of states, and Attorney General William Barr on Monday sent a two-page memo to federal prosecutors urging them to investigate claims of voting irregularities. The memo, which bucked departmental policy, prompted the top election crimes investigator at the Justice Department to resign.

Baker called the president’s decision to involve the Department of Justice “wildly inappropriate” and said Trump’s refusal to work with Joe Biden’s transition team was “unacceptable.”

He said Trump was entitled to challenge any election results in the courts and the courts should deal with those challenges as quickly as possible. But Baker said he was not aware of any claims of wrongdoing large enough to affect the outcome of the election.

“I’m dismayed to hear the baseless claims coming from the president, from his team, and from many other elected Republican officials in Washington,” Baker said.

“Continuing to make these claims erodes trust in the system when in fact the election system is working exactly as it was designed to do,” Baker said.

Baker, who in September was  called a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by Trump when the governor criticized him for not committing to a peaceful transfer of power, said someone’s Republicanism shouldn’t be questioned if they say the election appears to be legitimate, particularly if Republicans are playing key roles in supervising the election and counting the votes,

“I believe in many of the things that the Republican Party I support stands for, which is why I’ve been one for 40 years,” Baker said. “One of the things I don’t think people should stand for if you’re any place in elected office is this idea that elections are only legit if you win. More and more what I hear coming out of this conversation implies to me that some of this is just raw double standard and nothing else.”

In Massachusetts, the state Republican party is headed by Jim Lyons, a Trump loyalist.  Asked if it was time for a new message and new leadership at the state party, Baker didn’t answer directly. He said the party needs to recruit candidates who can build a local base of support and focus on issues that people care about.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“The issues that people care about when they vote for a state rep or a state senator are different from the ones that they talk about in national election cycles,” he said.

Asked if he will be on the ballot in 2022, when his current term ends, Baker begged off. “That’s a long time away,” he said.