White House Press Corps Demanded Trump Shut Down Economy; Now Question His Authority to Reopen It
The White House Press Corps challenged President Donald Trump’s contention Monday that he has the “total” authority to reopen the U.S. economy after the coronavirus abates — after pestering him for weeks to impose a national shutdown.
In every previous case, Trump said that the Constitution’s federalist structure gave governors primary authority, but stated that he could also overrule them.
The media pushed him to assert his executive power — which they are now questioning:
- On March 30, Trump was asked to respond to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) imposing a 70-day stay-at-home order. He responded: “Well, we’re letting the governors do in their states pretty much what they want with our supervision, and they consult with us in all cases.”
- On April 1, a reporter asked Trump to contradict Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who had refused to issue stay-at-home orders at that point. The president responded that he had the power to do so, but “unless we see something obviously wrong, we’re going to let the governors do it.”
- On April 3, a reporter asked Trump: “Should every state in this country have the kind of stay-at-home orders that we now see in places like Washington and New York?” He replied: “I leave it up to the governors. The governors know what they’re doing. … I like that from the standpoint of governing, and I like that from the standpoint of even our Constitution.”
- On April 5, reporters urged the president to challenge “eight governors, all Republicans, who have refused to issue … statewide stay-at-home orders.” Trump answered: “We have a thing called the Constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two, those governors — I know every one of them — they’re doing a great job.” He added that he had the power to “supersede” them, but did not want to use it.
- On April 7, Trump was asked to contradict “a number of governors who are close allies of yours … who have refrained thus far to have these stay-at-home orders.” Trump said that while he had the power to do so, he wanted to respect the federalist structure of the Constitution: “I can do it, but it is a constitutional — you can say federalist, you can say there’s lots of different reasons, where I would rather have the governors do it, make their own determination.”
- On April 10, the president was asked whether he would allow DeSantis to re-open schools in May. He answered: “I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them, because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done. If I disagreed, I would overrule a governor, and I have that right to do it. But I’d rather have them — you can call it ‘federalist,’ you can call it ‘the Constitution,’ but I call it ‘the Constitution.’”
The president’s stance was the same throughout. He argued that he had the constitutional authority to “supersede” governors and to shut down the economy in their states, but that he preferred to defer to the governors, according to the federalist structure of the Constitution.
Now, the media are challenging the very power they pressured Trump to assert just days ago.