Trump made the assertion when pressed by reporters during a White House news briefing about his earlier claim that he, not governors, had the ultimate decision-making power to lift measures imposed on states by the coronavirus pandemic.
“When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that is the way it’s going to be,” Trump told reporters. “It’s total. And the governors know that.”
When repeatedly asked to explain how he’d come to that conclusion, the president refused to answer and told a reporter, “Enough.” He cited “numerous provisions” in the Constitution but did not specify any. According to legal experts, though, the Constitution gives states the authority to respond during public health crises, and state governors have the power to decide when restrictions are lifted.
Numerous states on the East and West coasts have already begun planning their own coordinated frameworks to gradually open their economies when safe to do so.
Trump’s claim was met with derision from legal experts, politicians and social media commentators alike. National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss told Law&Crime that Trump’s remarks were “so laughably ridiculous they don’t merit a substantive response.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) noted that “we don’t have a king, we have an elected president.... And the Constitution clearly says that powers that are not specifically listed for the federal government are reserved to the states.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) pointed to the 10th Amendment:
And conservative attorney George Conway, who is married to Trump’s senior White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, sarcastically cited a historic Supreme Court decision that curbed executive power and presidential overreach.
Here’s a snapshot of the other commentary sparked by his remark:
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