Cuomo Would Defy King Trump to Protect Public Health

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks as the USNS Comfort pulls into a berth in Manhattan on March 30.
Reuters/ Carlo Allegri

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday he would not abide by any order that President Donald Trump might give to reopen the state in an unsafe manner during the coronavirus outbreak.

“If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn’t do it,” Cuomo said in an interview with CNN.

Trump said on Monday he believed he had “total authority” over states in terms of the US coronavirus response, a stance that is not supported by the Constitution and was immediately rejected by legal experts and some governors.

Cuomo said any such order would set up a constitutional challenge between the states and the federal government that would go to court.

“And the worst possible thing he could do at this moment — to act dictatorial and to act in a partisan, divisive way,” he said, referring to the president’s re-election campaign. “Keep the politics out of it.”

Cuomo said the country’s founders had already settled the matter.

“We had this argument. It was done a long time ago. People by the name of Hamilton, and Jefferson and Madison and Washington,” governor said. “And they concluded this. They wrote a document that’s called the Constitution of the United States.”

Cuomo added, “It says the federal government does not have absolute power. It says the exact opposite of what the president said. It says that would be a king.”

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