Nov 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

James Baker, who led Bush's recount battle, says Trump should let votes be counted

Photo of former Secretary of State James A. Baker's profile

James Baker led the political and legal team during the 2000 Florida recount battle. Photo: David Hume Kennerly via Getty

James Baker, the former secretary of state who led the political and legal team during the 2000 Florida recount battle that ensured George W. Bush's presidency, told the New York Times on Thursday that President Trump should not try to halt voting counting.

Why it matters: Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has said he is looking for a "James Baker-like" figure to lead the president's legal efforts to dispute votes in several states, the Times reported Wednesday.

  • In televised remarks on Thursday, Trump baselessly claimed "[i]f you count the legal votes, I easily win, if you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”
  • A judge in Michigan said earlier on Thursday she will deny the Trump campaign's request to stop the counting of mail-in ballots in the state.

What he's saying: If there is legitimate concern about the integrity of the election, Trump should pursue it after the votes are counted, Baker told the Times.

  • "Our whole argument was that the votes have been counted and they’ve been counted and they’ve been counted and it’s time to end the process," Baker said.
  • "That’s not exactly the message that I heard on election night. And so I think it’s pretty hard to be against counting the votes.”
  • Telling the country to not count votes is a "very hard decision to defend in a democracy," he added.
  • Baker has not publicly endorsed Trump, but he did vote for the president, per the Times. He served in cabinet positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

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