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President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on April 13, 2020.

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on April 13, 2020. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Critics Debunk Trump's Wild Assertion He Has 'Total' Authority on Reopening Economy

"Fact check: That is definitely not true."

Eoin Higgins

President Donald Trump's assertion on Monday evening that his "authority is total" to reopen the American economy in the wake of the peak of the coronavirus outbreak was pointed to by critics as another attempt by the White House to flout the advice of medical experts for economic gain even as the consequences could be lethal.

"Trump wants to reopen the economy so badly he thinks he can live with the resulting deaths, though there is no evidence he has grasped how enormous that tower of skulls could be," University of Michigan professor Juan Cole wrote Tuesday.

The president's comments on the extent of his authority came in response to decisions by governors in the West and the Northeast to set up respective regional pacts on when and how to reopen their economies. The pacts are being formed in a direct rebuke to Trump, who is increasingly upset over the possibility that the economic damage of safely managing the pandemic could be politically damaging to his re-election bid and wants to relax restrictions in May.

As Cole pointed out, such a shortsighted move will likely have worse medium-term consequences.

"What Trump and the people around him don't understand is that if they open back up in May, they may anyway create a second wave of the virus that would hit in early autumn, causing the economy to ground to a halt again just before the presidential election," wrote Cole.

Questions on the agreements sent Trump into a rage in his coronavirus press briefing Monday, leading him to claim the governors "can't do anything without approval of the president of the United States" and that "when somebody's president of the United States, the authority is total."

Those remarks asserting dictatorial powers provoked immediate pushback from critics.

"Fact check," PBS Newshour reporter Yamiche Alcindor said on Twitter. "That is definitely not true."

CNN's Daniel Dale, in an analysis Tuesday, noted that "there is no legislation that explicitly gives the president the power to override states' public health measures" and if the president took the conflict to the courts, he would most likely lose. 

"The president has no formal legal authority to categorically override local or state shelter-in-place orders or to reopen schools and small businesses," tweeted University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck. "No statute delegates to him such power; no constitutional provision invests him with such authority."

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'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

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