1. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Trump, US President:
(Responding to question on state authority to decide when to 'reopen' after lockdown conditions)
"Let me just tell you, I'm gonna put it to you very simply. The president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do, which is very powerful. The president of the United States calls the shots."
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Trump, US President:
"And if they don't do a good job, I'd step in so fast. But no, they can't do anything without the approval of the president of the United States."
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Trump, US President:
"Well if some states refuse to open, I would like to see that person run for election. They're going to open. They're going to all open."
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Trump, US President:
"This is... when somebody is the president of the United States the authority is total and that's the way it's got to be."
(Question: It's total. The authority is total?)
"It's total and the governors know that. The governors know that. You have a couple of bands of, excuse me, xcuse me."
(Question: Could you rescind that order?)
"You have a couple of bands of Democrat governors but they will agree to it. They will agree to it. The authority of the president of the United States having to do with the subject we're talking about his total."
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Trump, US President:
(Reporter: A question on something you just said. You said when someone is president of the United States their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?)
"OK. You know what we're going to do? We're going to write up papers on this. It's not going to be necessary because the governors need us one way or the other. Because ultimately, it comes with the federal government. That being said, we're getting along very well with the governors and I feel very certain that there won't be a problem. Yes please go ahead."
(Question: Has any governor agreed that you have the authority to decide when their state opens back up?)
"I haven't asked anybody you know why? Because I don't have to. Go ahead, please."
(Question: But who told you the president has the total authority?)
US President Donald Trump has claimed he has the “total” authority to decide how and when to reopen the US economy after weeks of tough social distancing guidelines aimed at fighting the new coronavirus.
Trump would not offer specifics about the source of his asserted power, which he claimed, despite constitutional limitations, was absolute.
“When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total,” he said on Monday at the White House, adding: “The governors know that.”
The president faced numerous questions about his "total authority" claim from reporters at the news conference, telling one of them: "enough".
The comments came not long after Democratic leaders in the Northeast and along the West Coast announced separate state compacts to coordinate their efforts to scale back stay-at-home orders or reopen businesses on their own timetables.
Governors from both parties were quick to push back against Trump's comments, noting they had primary responsibility for ensuring public safety in their states and would decide when it's safe to begin a return to normal operations.
The US constitution gives public health and safety responsibilities primarily to state and local officials.