President Trump on Monday took ownership of the decision to open up the country once the coronavirus wanes, saying it will be up to him “for many good reasons” even though governors and local leaders issued mandatory stay-at-home orders.
“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,” he said in a series of tweets.
“It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!”
The president, in his tweets, did not outline what authority he’d be exercising to be the arbiter of how the country opens up. Governors have wide latitude and their orders would stay in place even if Mr. Trump says it’s time to get the economy rocking again.
Mr. Trump issued White House guidelines on March 16 that urge all Americans to work and learn at home and to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more. He extended those guidelines to April 30 after briefly musing that things could open again by Easter.
Yet all but a handful of states have issued shutdown orders that go further and have more teeth, such as fines or other penalties, than the White House’s voluntary guidelines.
Rep. Justin Amash, Michigan independent, said the president’s assertion of control is “flat-out wrong.”
“The president has no authority to ‘close down’ or ‘open up’ the states,” tweeted Mr. Amash, who left the Republican Party last year and voted to impeach Mr. Trump. “He’s the one creating conflict and confusion. Put down the authoritarianism and read the Constitution.”
On Friday, Mr. Trump insisted he has the right to override state leaders but he’d rather collaborate with them.
“You know, I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done,” Mr. Trump said from the White House podium. “If I disagreed, I would overrule a governor, and I have that right to do it.”
More than half a million people in the U.S. have contracted the coronavirus. More than 22,000 people have died.