Politics

Charlie Baker blasts fellow Republicans’ refusal to concede the presidential election

"I can't think of a worse time to stall a transition than amid a deadly pandemic."

Gov. Charlie Baker during a press conference last week. John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Gov. Charlie Baker has recognized Joe Biden as the president-elect of the United States — and he says the rest of the Republican Party needs to as well.

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Baker said he was “dismayed to hear the baseless claims” from President Donald Trump, his campaign, and “many other elected Republican officials,” adding that the Justice Department’s move to allow federal prosecutors to investigate the unsubstantiated accusations — a policy reversal that results in the resignation of the agency’s top elections crime official — was “wildly inappropriate.”

Baker also said the Trump administration’s refusal to allow Biden’s transition team to formally begin work, particularly in the midst of the second COVID-19 surge, was “equally unacceptable.”

“I can’t think of a worse time to stall a transition than amid a deadly pandemic that the federal government continues to own primary responsibility for responding to,” he said.

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Baker said last week that Trump’s efforts to cast doubt upon the results of the election, after Biden took a lead in several swing states, were “damaging to democracy.”

After the race was called for the Democratic nominee this past Saturday, the moderate Republican governor, who “blanked” his presidential vote, broke with the majority of elected GOP officials to congratulate Biden as president-elect.

“If the Trump campaign has legitimate legal challenges, they should bring them to court, and the court should deal with those as quickly and as fairly as possible,” Baker said Tuesday.

“But I’m aware of no legitimate claims of wrongdoing anywhere near the scale it would take to effect this outcome, and there’s no credible third party entity that’s verified the President’s claims in any way,” he added. “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.”

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Baker noted that many Republican officials overseeing elections in close states — specifically naming Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — had shot down claims of voting irregularities by Trump allies.

“Every campaign season we hear a lot about doing what’s best for the country,” Baker said. “And 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.”

Baker’s remarks came as his administration and local health care leaders warned Tuesday about rising hospitalizations due to COVID-19 — both in Massachusetts and across the country. The governor said that the Trump administration should be working with Biden’s transition team, rather than obstructing it. According to Baker, the post-election disputes will only make it more difficult for states moving forward to manage the second wave.

“We are at a very critical moment with respect to this nation’s response to this virus, and there isn’t guidance or direction or a consistent message coming from D.C.,” he said. “And that’s a problem.”

Baker made a point of noting Tuesday that he has “been a Republican for 40 years,” and has “raised money for Republican candidates,” “knocked doors for Republican candidates” and “answered and made phone calls for Republican candidates.”

When asked his views about the party, Baker said he still believes in “many of the things that the Republican Party I support stands for.” But he called the widespread questioning of the election results by current GOP leaders, which is also occurring in his home state, “ridiculous.”

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“One of the things I don’t believe people should stand for, if you’re any place in elected office, is this idea somehow that elections are only legit if you win,” Baker said. “And more and more of what I hear coming out of this conversation implies to me that some of this is just broad double standard, and nothing else.”

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