The president said on Monday that he had absolute power over states when it comes to ending the coronavirus shutdown. Governors and legal experts dismissed the president’s claim overnight as a misreading of the US constitution at best.
“The constitution says we don’t have a king,” said New York governor Cuomo. “To say ‘I have total authority over the country because I’m the president, it’s absolute,’ that is a king.
“We didn’t have a king. We didn’t have King George Washington — we had President George Washington.”
During an interview on MSNBC, Gov. Cuomo described President Trump’s claims as illegal and in “total abrogation of the Constitution”. The governor continued: “I don’t know why the president said it. I don’t know why he would take us down this path.”
As confirmed US cases of the coronavirus neared 590,000 on Monday, the New York Democrat added that state governors had ordered lockdowns to combat the spread of the coronavirus — not the White House.
“The close-down was left to the governors to do individually state-by-state”, said Gov. Cuomo. “We have a whole quilt of different close-down strategies because he left it to the governors.”
On Twitter, the president scolded media outlets that suggested states would also decide when current coronavirus measures ended.
“For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect…” wrote Mr Trump. “…It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons.”
That comes as states on the east and west coasts of the country grouped together to plan when they will reopen as conditions permit.
When CNN White House correspondent Kaitlin Collins asked the president about his claim to total authority as president, Mr Trump responded: “We’re going to write up papers on this … the governors need us one way or the other…”
William Galston, an official in the Clinton White House, commented that the president could not override state-level decisions because “No federal statute gives the president the authority to override state decisions. Nor does he possess this inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution. Nor do any other provisions of the Constitution.”
Gov. Cuomo added on Monday that he would file a lawsuit against Mr Trump in the event that White House actions “violated” the public health interests of New Yorkers.