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Baker says Trump should be relieved of power for final two weeks of term

At the State House today, Charlie Baker discussed his reaction to the Wednesday rioting in Washington
At the State House today, Charlie Baker discussed his reaction to the Wednesday rioting in WashingtonSam Doran/State House News Service

Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday that President Trump should be relieved of power for the final two weeks of his term after he stoked the violent mob that overran the US Capitol on Wednesday.

Baker, a Republican who twice didn’t vote for Trump, said Vice President Mike Pence should be “empowered” to lead the transition to a Biden administration until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

“It’s 14 days, OK?” Baker said at a State House news conference. “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.”

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Baker joined a slew of officials — Democrat and Republican — in calling for Trump to vacate the Oval Office, with some urging his Cabinet to remove him under the 25th Amendment or for Congress to pursue another impeachment. Baker did not say what he’d prefer to see, saying, “Whatever the mechanism is for doing that, I leave up to the people in Washington.”

The extraordinary comments came after Baker blasted Trump for his “role leading up to” the deadly violence at the US Capitol, where four people died and chaos gripped the building amid the congressional tallying of Electoral College votes.

“Yesterday’s events were appalling, disgraceful, and depressing,” Baker told reporters. “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.”

Before a horrific day of violence on Wednesday, Trump told his supporters at a rally to “fight like hell” and to walk to the Capitol, where members of Congress were preparing the certification of Biden’s November election victory. Many of Trump’s backers then stormed the building,forcing members of Congress to evacuate their chambers and temporarily shelter in place.

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Wednesday, Baker said, “was a dark moment for our country, made even more depressing by the president’s role leading up to it and his wholly inadequate and appalling response to the violence.”

Baker has spoken out against Trump in increasingly pointed remarks in recent months. He said Trump’s comments on Wednesday, in which he told supporters “I love you” in a video later removed by Facebook and Twitter, were “disgraceful.”

He also cited the juxtaposition with Trump’s criticisms of several governors in the spring amid protests and demonstrations against police brutality, in which many were peaceful but some were marked by violence. Trump at the time derided the nation’s governors as “weak” and demanded tougher crackdowns on protesters.

“And yesterday he thanked the mob for their support. The whole thing makes me sick,” Baker said.

Baker in November did not vote for Trump or Biden, opting to leave his ballot blank. Asked Thursday if he regretted doing so, Baker defended the decision, saying he wasn’t “particularly pleased with either choice and I was perfectly comfortable with that.”

“And a lot of other people told me that was a pretty good move as far as they were concerned because they felt the same way,” he said.

The governor noted that back in September, he was asked about Trump’s publicly stated unwillingness to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost to Biden.

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“I said at the time that the US electoral system and the thousands of appointed state and local [elections officials] will do the right thing, and they did,” Baker said. “The most powerful office in the world, when used for an illegitimate purpose is no match for the democratic process.”

Baker lamented the state of political life.

“I despise much of what our politics, often amplified by social media platforms, has become,” Baker said. “Too many people in public life associate disagreements with character flaws and use that message to engage and enrage their supporters. That has to stop.”

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, meanwhile, said Trump should be removed from office after inciting his supporters to storm the US Capitol.

“I absolutely believe that the president should be removed from office,” Walsh said during his regular briefing at Faneuil Hall, calling on officials in Washington to start “a process right now.”

“They should be moving forward [based] on what he did yesterday,” he said.

Trump incited his backers to enter the “sacred place” of the Capitol and “encouraged people to commit violence,” Walsh said.

Walsh, referring to a video Trump posted online Wednesday during the violence, said Trump “did not want to come up and say ‘stop.’ You put that video out there and told [the rioters] you love them. ... Right now we have servicemen and women overseas fighting for democracy and helping other countries achieve democracy. The president just threw that out the window yesterday.”

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Walsh said city authorities were not aware of any threats against Boston institutions or people, and he did not expect there to be violence in the city in coming days.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, meanwhile, also condemned the violence and called for healing.

“The violence witnessed in our nation’s capital yesterday serves only to inflame our divisions and pit citizen against citizen at a time we need to be united,” said O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston. “We reject all forms of violence, including the acts of those who stormed our Capitol. We pray for those who lost their lives and for their loved ones and for the injured. We live in a divided nation and the challenges our nation faces are significant.”

Recovering from the trauma of the scene at the Capitol will require the “best talents” of civic leaders, he added.

“Very soon President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn in to lead our country,” O’Malley said. “In the spirit of what makes America a beacon of light and democracy for the entire world we must set aside our divisions and together go about the work of helping to lift people out of poverty, healing the sick, welcoming the immigrant, and address systemic racism, and many other tasks.”



Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.