President Trump claims ‘total’ authority to lift lockdown

President Trump claims 'total' authority to lift lockdown
The US Constitution says the states maintain public safety and order, differing Trump's claim. Source: FT
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: Contradicting governors and legal experts, President Donald Trump has claimed “total” power to lift the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Mr Trump said this during a combative press conference in which he feuded with reporters. “The president of the United States calls the shots,” he said.

But the US Constitution says the states maintain public safety and order.

Ten states on the US West and East coasts are planning to lift their strict stay-at-home orders.

The United States is the global epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak with 23,608 deaths and 554,6849 confirmed cases.

What did the President say?

On Monday on the daily White House press conference, Mr Trump told that his administration was finalizing a plan to reopen the US economy, which has been largely shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The White House has signaled 1 May as a potential date for easing the restrictions.

The current White House recommendations for Americans to avoid restaurants and non-essential travel and keep in-person gatherings to no more than 10 people expire on 30 April.

But when he was asked by the journalists whether he had the authority to over-ride stay-at-home orders imposed on a state-by-state basis, he replied: “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

“It’s total. The governors know that.”

“That being said, we’re going to work with the states,” Mr Trump added.

He insisted “numerous provisions” in the US founding charter give him such power, without specifying which ones.

But legal experts denied his claims. They say the president does not have the authority to reverse a public health restriction put in place at the state or local level.

When Mr Trump was asked if he was concerned about the possibility of having to close the economy again if a second wave of coronavirus strikes, Mr Trump replied: “It does weigh on my mind.”

He told that the number of deaths from the coronavirus in the US had begun to plateau, pointing that social distancing efforts had succeeded.

During the briefing, the White House played a video montage lambasting the media coverage, touting the president’s handling of the pandemic and clips of governors praising the Trump administration.

Several news outlets, which have been broadcasting the daily press conference live, quickly cut away.

Governors assert it is their prerogative when the coronavirus-related restrictions get lifted.

Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania said: “Well, seeing as how we had the responsibility for closing the state down, I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up.”

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