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Coronavirus: Trump claims that as president, his ‘authority is total’

  • President Donald Trump claimed on Monday that “when somebody is the president of the United States,” their “authority is total.”
  • He made the statement when a reporter asked how he would compel governors to reopen their states’ economies during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • “The federal government has absolute power,” Trump added. “As to whether I’ll use that power, we’ll see.”
  • The president’s claims are untrue. The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution delegates “police powers” to states to regulate behavior during public health crises.
  • This isn’t the first time Trump has claimed the presidency gives him unilateral authority. He previously said he has the “absolute right” to pardon whomever he wants, and that he has “absolute immunity” from being investigated while in office.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump claimed on Monday that “when somebody is the president of the United States,” their “authority is total.”

Fact check: This is untrue, according to the United States Constitution.

Trump made the statement during Monday’s daily coronavirus task force briefing.

When a reporter asked him how he would compel governors to reopen their states’ economies during the outbreak, Trump responded, “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that’s the way it’s got to be.”

Earlier Monday, the governors of California, Washington, and Oregon said they were working together on a West Coast plan to safely reopen those states, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a multi-state coalition to coordinate on ways to reopen the region’s economy as the spread of the virus becomes more manageable.

The move came as Trump and many of his top administration officials have been adamant about rolling back social-distancing measures to fire up the economy as the nation faces mounting unemployment and economic distress.

Cuomo also made the announcement after Trump falsely suggested on Twitter that reopening the country “is the decision of the President.”

Fact check: The decision is up to individual states.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pressed Trump during Monday’s briefing on his baseless claim that his “authority is total” as president, saying, “That is not true. Who told you that?”

“Yeah, so you know what we’re going to do?” Trump replied. “We are going to write up papers on this. It’s not going to be necessary because the governors need us one way or the other. Because ultimately it comes with the federal government.”

Fact check: The Tenth Amendment delegates “police powers” to the states to regulate behavior during public health crises.

Still, Trump pressed on, saying, “The federal government has absolute power. As to whether I’ll use that power, we’ll see.”

He added: “I’d rather have [the states] make decisions, but I have absolute right to make the decisions if I want to. The relationships we have with the states and governors is very good.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has claimed that he has unilateral authority as president. He has previously claimed he has the “absolute right” to pardon anyone he wants.

Trump’s lawyers have also argued in legal proceedings that as president, he has “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution and any investigation, including probes initiated by Congress.

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