President Trump on Monday declared that his "authority is total" when it comes to deciding how and when states reopen their economies.
He made this claim after the governors of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island announced they will coordinate their plans to reopen once it's safe to do so. Each state has come up with its own approach to shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic; California was one of the earliest states to limit large gatherings and ask people 65 and older to stay home, while Arkansas has yet to issue a stay-at-home order.
During his daily coronavirus briefing, Trump told reporters that when "somebody's president of the United States, the authority is total. And that's the way it's got to be. It's total. It's total. And the governors know that." He went on to assert that governors "can't do anything without approval from the president of the United States." CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins pushed Trump on this, telling him this wasn't true and asking several times who told him that the president has total authority over the states. Trump did not answer, and finally told her, "Enough."
Several Republicans also called Trump out for his remarks, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) quoting the 10th Amendment and tweeting, "The federal government does not have absolute power." Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, a Republican witness during the impeachment inquiry into Trump, tweeted that the Constitution "was written precisely" to deny Trump's claim that the president's authority is total. "It also reserved to the states (and individuals) rights not expressly given to the federal government," he added.