New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says President Trump does not have the authority to decide when states reopen during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
After seven northeastern states, led by New York, announced a joint regional task force Monday to determine how and when to restart their economies, Trump asserted that reopening was entirely up to him.
Cuomo had been complimentary of the president for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, but he said at a Tuesday morning press briefing that Trump's statement "cannot go uncorrected."
The governor evoked the words of Alexander Hamilton and his own background as a lawyer, arguing that there is no Constitutional basis for Trump's claim. He shrugged off Trump's comments earlier in the morning that the democratic governors were "mutineers."
"The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue," Cuomo said. "...The worst thing we can do in all of this is start with political division and start with partisanship. The best thing we have done throughout this past 44 days is we've worked together and we haven't raised political flags, even in this hyper-partisan environment, even though it's an election year."
While Trump has been eager to set a demarcation date for reopening, Cuomo has repeatedly cautioned against reopening too soon, citing examples in other nations that are enduring a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Another wave of COVID-19 infections would be the "worst case scenario" for New York and would be devastating to the delicate effort of rebuilding the economy, he says.
For the second time in as many days, Cuomo noted that suburban New Rochelle, New York — not New York City — was the first epicenter for the coronavirus in the state. He says it's a salient example for how the virus spreads like a "fire through dry grass" in social situations.
He noted that he had plans to speak with the president later Tuesday, but he did not offer details on what that conversation would entail.
Cuomo concluded by suggesting that a political tug-of-war over reopening would be a failure on both of their accounts.
"I don't want to fight with the president," he said. "He is wrong on the law. ...You don't even have the luxury of the argument. And there's too much to do for everyone. There's just too much to do. I can't do it. He can't do it."
The United States reported 583,000 coronavirus cases and 23,000 deaths nationwide.
Photos: Getty Images