Apr 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says decision on coronavirus reopening belongs to him, not governors

Trump.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Monday that the "decision to open up the states" following shutdown measures taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus lies with him, not governors.

Why it matters: The tweet undermines talking points from both the administration and conservatives on the coronavirus shutdown — and overstates Trump's constitutional authority.

  • It sets up a potential showdown between the president and the states as some in the White House eye May 1 to begin an economic restart.

What he's saying: Trump's tweet claims that a reopening call 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!" he added.

Reality check: The federal government does not have the power to implement nationwide measures to stop the spread of the virus — or move toward a reopening — though the president has used his daily briefings and social media to influence governors' decisions.

  • Trump advisers told Axios on multiple occasions that the administration's "Slow the Spread" guidelines were intended to put pressure on governors — and that it is ultimately up to the states to determine shelter-in-place rules.
  • John Malcolm, a constitutional law expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told AP earlier this month that Trump's comments on issuing and easing lockdowns "are just advisory."
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