Fox News’ chief political anchor Bret Baier pushed back on President Donald Trump’s claim that he had “total” authority over states’ decisions on whether to lift coronavirus stay at home orders and reopen their economies.
On The Daily Briefing With Dana Perino, Baier said, “First of all, the Constitution is pretty clear and Constitutional scholars will say that this is not the president flicking on the switch, it’s the governors and the local authorities that have that going forward. There is a hypocirsy here in that one. If President Obama had said those words that you heard from President Trump, that the authority is total with the presidency, conservatives heads would have exploded across the board.”
In his White House briefing on Monday, Trump told reporters that “when somebody’s the President of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.” That put him in potential conflict with governors, some of whom are joining with other states to jointly establish parameters for reopening businesses, schools and public venues. Trump is trying to decide when to lift White House guidelines on social distancing — perhaps as soon as May 1 — but he claimed that his decision would override those of individual states.
Baier said, “The bottom line is that the president can really influence these governors and work with them. But as far as a top down order, by the constitution, you can’t do that.”
He also suggested that Trump’s position was a bit of a reversal from just a week ago, when he was resisting calls to issue a national stay-at-home order and instead that the decision should be left to the states.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said that Trump’s assertion of presidential power. “We don’t have a king. We have a president,” he said on CBS This Morning.
But later, Trump tweeted, “Tell the Democrat Governors that “Mutiny On The Bounty” was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!”
Fox News’ senior political analyst Brit Hume also rejected the idea that Trump had authority over states, but said that the media should focus less on what the president says and more on what he actually does.
He tweeted, “POTUS claims of absolute power in Covid 19 emergency are constitutional nonsense, another of his serial exaggerations. The reaction to them are another case of media’s insistent focus on the stuff he says, as if that is more important than what he actually does. He constantly blusters and threatens all sorts of things, most of which never come to pass. In this instance, he is claiming supreme executive authority, but there is no sign he will try to exercise it. Indeed, he actions so far have been highly deferential to governors & mayors.”
On Fox Business, host Neil Cavuto also addressed Trump’s claim.
“It’s just surprising because he was the one himself that left it up to the governors to decide if they wanted to practice social distancing, shelter-at-home provisions, that each governor would decide,” Cavuto said. “He was never critical of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, among the later entrants in that policy. And worked with governors in getting them everything they needed and whatever the states needed, it’s their responsibility, so the states say they ultimately want to decide as the Constitution provides, for whether it’s safe or not to re-open. All then of the sudden it’s a bad ‘Mutiny on the Bounty,’ that I don’t get. The Constitution allows them to do that.”