|Baker: Trump Should Step Down, Pence Should Lead Transition|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff |
04:08PM / Thursday, January 07, 2021
BOSTON — The state's Republican governor said President Donald Trump should "step down" and be replaced by Vice President Mike Pence after the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
"I think that the most important thing we need to do at this point in time is recognize there's a transition to a new administration that's going to take place 14 days from now, and Vice President Pence should be empowered to do that," Gov. Charlie Baker said on Thursday. "Whatever the mechanism is for doing that, I leave up to the people in Washington. But I think it's important at this point that there be an orderly transition, and that that transition be led by the vice president."
Baker stopped short of using the word impeachment or specifically calling for invocation of the 25th Amendment. Vermont's Gov. Phil Scott, also a Republican in a largely blue state, tweeted Wednesday evening that "President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress."
"It's 14 days, OK?" Baker said. "I think people should pursue whatever they believe will make it possible in the most expeditious way possible for the president to step down and the vice president to assume the powers of the office for the next 14 days so that an orderly transition can take place."
Baker was queried about the president's fitness to remain in office moments after the governor devoted more than five minutes at the top of his daily news conference to a discussion of the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Baker, who is on record saying he did not vote for either Trump or President-elect Joe Biden in November's election, pulled no punches in assessing responsibility for the mob that stormed the Capitol moments after a "stop the steal" rally that featured speeches from Trump, his eldest son and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
"Yesterday's events were appalling, disgraceful and depressing," Baker said. "But it's important to remember that they were the culmination of months of President Trump repeating over and over again that the American electoral system is a fraud.
"For four years, the man who won three states in 2016 by less than a combined total of 78,000 votes that no one questioned at the time, has repeatedly questioned the validity of the American electoral process. As recently as September, he would not commit to a peaceful transfer of power, one of the most fundamental hallmarks of American democracy, if he lost the election."
On Thursday morning, hours after the Senate and House of Representatives reconvened to complete the work interrupted by the rioters and officially count the Electoral College vote, Trump for the first time promised an "orderly transition" in a statement that nevertheless continued to falsely claim he won the 2020 election.
On Thursday afternoon, Baker was supported in his comments by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy and Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.
"What unfolded yesterday, incited by the president, as well as a number of Republican senators and congressmen, was a disgrace," Polito said. "It was horrifying to me, to Gov. Baker and to Americans nationwide.
"President Trump's tepid response and failure to condemn the actions of his supporters was shocking as we all watched our Capitol be attacked, with members of Congress and innocent civilians inside. This is not who we are."
Polito and Baker, before transitioning to discussing the state's latest measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic, each emphasized the fact that the rioters' apparent aim -- to stop Congress' acknowledgement of the election's result -- was thwarted.
"When I was asked in September about the president's reluctance to say he would step down if he lost the election, I said at the time that the U.S. electoral system and the thousands of elected and appointed state and local officials who oversee our elections and appoint our electors would do the right thing," Baker said. "They did.
"The most powerful office in the free world, when used for an illegitimate purpose, is no match for the democratic process."