Trump lashes out at Cuomo over remarks on presidential authority

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE lashed out at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Tuesday after Cuomo questioned the president's authority to override governors' wishes and reopen states' economies amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump tweeted that Cuomo couldn’t have “independence” after receiving support from the federal government, including critical medical supplies to address the massive outbreak of COVID-19 in New York. 

The remark came shortly after Cuomo warned Trump against trying to force New York to loosen physical distancing restrictions too early and rejected the president’s statements about having “total authority” over when states open up.

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“Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc. I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “That won’t happen!”

 

The developments foretell further fissures between Trump and governors over the president’s efforts to revive the U.S. economy as the coronavirus outbreak subsides. Most states, including New York, have implemented stay-at-home orders and instructed nonessential businesses to close in order to lessen the spread of the virus, causing a massive spike in unemployment claims.

Trump is currently weighing a decision on when to begin to relax federal guidelines on social distancing in some areas of the country to get Americans back to work, though he has indicated he will not look at doing so in New York or states that have seen significant community spread for the time being. Health experts have raised concerns about a potential move by Trump to reopen even parts of the country to early when there aren’t sufficient testing and contact tracing capabilities in place. 

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More than 580,000 Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and the virus has cause over 23,000 domestic deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The president insisted several times on Monday that he has absolute authority to make a decision on when states can reopen. But Trump did not offer a constitutional explanation for his claims, and legal experts have disputed his assertion by saying the president does not have the authority to reverse state or local quarantine orders.  

“The president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do, which is very powerful,” Trump said at a White House briefing on Monday. “The president of the United States calls the shots.”

As the U.S. has grappled with the coronavirus, Trump has insisted that the federal government’s stockpile of critical supplies is merely a “backup” and asserted that states have the foremost responsibility to accumulate medical supplies to prepare for the virus.

Trump has also largely refrained from offering recommendations to states on implementing stay-at-home orders and other restrictions, though the president’s latest comments have signaled a shift in his thinking about the role of the federal government in states’ decisions.

Cuomo responded to the president’s remarks on Tuesday morning in several interviews, saying on NBC’s “Today” that there would be a “problem” if Trump tried to reopen New York against the governor’s wishes. 

“The president doesn't have total authority. The Constitution is there, the 10th Amendment is there, number of cases over the years, it's very clear. States have power by the 10th Amendment, and the president is just wrong on that point,” Cuomo said.

 

Cuomo also said on "Morning Joe" that the only way the coronavirus crisis could be worse "is if the president creates a constitutional crisis."

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In a later interview with CNN, Cuomo threatened legal action against the Trump administration if the president ordered New York reopened in a way that endangered the health of residents in the state.

The governors of seven Northeastern states, including New York, on Monday joined together to develop recommendations on how they can reopen their economies safely in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

The White House, meanwhile, is expected to announce a new council focused on issuing recommendations reopening the economy later Tuesday.

Updated at 11:29 a.m.