New York Gov. Cuomo Says Trump Can't Force States to Reopen

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Gov. Cuomo

"We don't have a king. We have a president. That was a big decision. We ran away from having a king, and George Washington was president, not King Washington. So the president doesn't have total authority."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the morning TV shows Tuesday to push back against President Donald Trump's claim of “total” authority to reopen the nation's virus-stalled economy, noting that a president is not an absolute monarch.

“We don’t have a king,” Cuomo said on NBC's Today. “We have a president. That was a big decision. We ran away from having a king, and George Washington was president, not King Washington. So the president doesn’t have total authority.”

The Democratic governor, whose state has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, was reacting to Trump's assertion Monday that “when somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.”

“Nope,” Cuomo said.

On CBS This Morning, he called Trump's position a "total reversal" of what the president initially said. "He has total authority to open up the economy. Then why didn't he have authority to close the economy? Why did he leave it to the states and to the governors to close it down?" Cuomo asked.

When asked on CNN's New Day what he would do if the Republican president ordered him to reopen New York's economy, Cuomo said, “If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn’t do it. And we would have a constitutional challenge between the state and the federal government, and that would go into the courts, and that would be the worst possible thing he could do at this moment.”

Trump made his comments in reaction to moves by governors on both coasts Monday to form multi-state compacts to coordinate reopening society amid the global pandemic.

More than 10,000 people in New York state have died from the coronavirus, Cuomo reported Monday.