Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing back against President Donald Trump’s claim of “total” authority to reopen the nation’s virus-stalled economy.
“We don't have a king Trump, we have a President Trump," Cuomo said during an appearance on CNN Tuesday morning.
The governor evoked the United States Constitution, which he said offers an "explicit and intricate balance of power between the federal government and the state governments."
"It says the federal government does not have absolute power. It says the exact opposite of what the president said," the governor added, referencing the Constitution. "It says that would be a king. We would have had king George Washington and we didn't have a king George Washington."
Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island announced Monday a task force would draft a multi-state strategy for reopening local economies amid the coronavirus crisis . The governor of Massachusetts also joined the multistate task force.
On the West Coast, the governors of California, Washington and Oregon announced a similar strategy.
Together, the 10 states generated 38.3% of the total U.S. economic output in the fourth quarter of 2019 — an exceptionally large portion of the nation's economy, Reuters reported .
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul told PIX11 News on Tuesday that Trump could create a constitutional crisis by ignoring states' joint plans to reopen local economies on their own terms.
“We’re the ones who shut it down, so it’s logical that we’d be the ones to open it up once again,” she told PIX11's Dan Mannarino.
Trump fired back on Twitter Tuesday morning, claiming his administration has given New York everything Cuomo has asked for.
"Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc. I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!" the president tweeted.
The governor has been critical of the federal government's preparedness for the coronavirus outbreak, though he has praised Trump's willingness to help the state on several occasions.
During his daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday, Cuomo reiterated the president doesn't have "total" authority over states, but stressed that it was more important to put politics aside to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
The governor said he went on several morning television programs to refute the president's claim because it's constitutionally untrue: "That statement cannot stand."
"This is no time for politics and this is no time to fight," Cuomo said, adding he would not engage with the president, who was "spoiling for a fight."
The only caveat, Cuomo said, would be if Trump issued a directive that would directly endanger the lives of New Yorkers.
"I am not interested in fighting with the president, and I can't be any more clear about that," he said. "I'm not going to let anything bad happen to the people I represent ... I will fight with all my might to protect New Yorkers, but I don't think it comes to that."