FILE PHOTO: New York governor Andrew Cuomo speaks as the USNS Comfort pulls into a berth in Manhattan during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday he would not abide by any order that U.S. President Donald Trump might give to reopen his 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 U.S. 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 impending bid for re-election in November. “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. And they concluded this. They wrote a document that’s called the Constitution of the United States.”
“It says the federal government does not have absolute power,” said Cuomo. “It says the exact opposite of what the president said. It says that would be a king.”
Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bernadette Baum