President Trump claimed during an off-the-rails coronavirus press briefing on Monday that he has “total” authority. “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that is the way it’s gonna be,” Trump told reporters. “It’s total. It’s total. And the governors know that.” He continued, “When somebody is the President of the United States, the authority is total.” CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins told Trump that his assertion is “not true,” to which he responded “enough” and later asserted that governors “need us one way or the other because ultimately it comes with the federal government.” The president has maintained that it is ultimately up to him to decide when social-distancing guidelines should be lifted and that he has the power to “override” the decisions of governors. Legal experts, however, have rebuked his claims, arguing that the president does not have the power to restart state economies.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to Trump’s remarks about having “total” authority in an interview with MSNBC on Monday night, asserting that they are untrue. “Why he would even go there, I have no idea,” the governor said, adding, “The constitution says we don’t have a king. To say I have total authority over the country because I’m the president, it’s absolute, that is a king.” Cuomo also said that he wouldn’t hesitate to take legal action if the president did anything to put the lives of New Yorkers at risk.