Donald Trump accused governors of organising a “mutiny” against him over his vow to “soon” issue an order opening the country amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the president has yet to provide a shred of legal evidence he has the power to do so.
Mr Trump began Tuesday the way he ended Wednesday, only his tweets came from the White House residence and his brash, Richard Nixon-esque declarations that his “authority is total” came from the briefing room downstairs. The showman in chief added some dramatics to his claim that he and he alone can override state and local orders to allow businesses and school systems now shuttered to reopen.
In a message to Democratic governors who are planning to move ahead with their own blueprints for getting their states back to some semblance of normalcy when and if the virus spread slows inside their borders, Mr Trump sounded more like a pirate ship captain on a hijacked vessel than the leader of the free world.
“A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain,” Mr Trump tweeted.
He appeared to suggest he would use federal virus aid to try forcing state chiefs executive into complying with a likely coming order to, as he has put it, “open for business.” He even wrote that doing so would be “Too easy!”
White House officials did not chase The Independent off the notion that the president is threatening to turn federal assistance into leverage for states’ compliance.
Doing so could put at risk some of those who have contracted the coronavirus, if their local hospital was limited in its ability to treat that person due to a governor’s feud with Mr Trump over refusing to comply with an order he has yet to even legally justify.
At the centre of Mr Trump’s escalating battle with states’ leaders is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
The president has praised Mr Cuomo in recent days, saying the duo is working well together to make sure the Empire State has what it needs to treat patients after becoming the US’s leading area for infections and deaths.
But the New York chief executive appears to have angered Mr Trump anew after accusing him of acting like “a king.”
The president accused the governor of “calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc.” before making this contention: “I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!”
Mr Trump did not explain how he might force anything on Mr Cuomo, or if the two New Yorkers were merely engaging in some Big Apple bluster.
That came during a call-in interview Monday night following perhaps the president’s wildest daily Covid-19 briefing yet.
In a remark reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s claim that “if the president does it, it’s not illegal,” Mr Trump told reporters that, in his view, “when somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”
That claim is false, as clearly stated in the Constitution.
Mr Trump has vowed this week to produce a document that legally justifies his opening order claims. One hurdle will be the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
It states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”