'We don't have a king:' Trump's claim of 'total' authority over states gets pushback across spectrum

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's claim that he has total authority over governors to "reopen" states drew pushback Monday, including from some fellow conservatives.

During Monday's press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, Trump said, “When somebody’s president of the United States, the authority is total. And that’s the way it’s got to to be. It's total. It’s total. And the governors know that."

"They will agree to it," Trump said of the governors. "But the authority of the president of the United States, having to do with the subject we’re talking about, is total.”

More: Who decides when and how America reopens from its coronavirus shutdown?

Federal law allows the federal government to impose quarantines in some circumstances and limit travel between states, but the Trump administration has not invoked those powers. The Supreme Court has struck down attempts by the federal government to intervene within states and Trump would not offer specifics about the source of this power when pressed by members of the press.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-WY., third-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House, quoted the 10th Amendment in a tweet, seemingly responding to the president's comments:

"The federal government does not have absolute power," she wrote.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who was the sole witness called by Republicans before the Judiciary Committee in the impeachment inquiry into Trump, refuted Trump's claim in a tweet: "The Constitution was written precisely [to] deny that particular claim. It also reserved to the states (& individuals) rights not expressly given to the federal government."

Bill Kristol, a conservative commentator who worked for Vice President Dan Quayle but is a consistent critic of Trump, tweeted a portion of the oath president's take when inaugurated. " 'I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.' I don’t see “the authority is total” in this oath, or in the Constitution." he wrote.

Rep. Justin Amash, I-MI, who left the Republican party last year and supported Trump's impeachment, tweeted that "Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option," while quoting Trump's tweet about authority.

In a response to someone replying that person should be him, Amash appeared to entertain the idea, saying he was "looking at it closely this week."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, also responded to Trump’s remarks in an interview with CNN on Monday night, saying, "The President doesn't have total authority. We have a Constitution. We don't have a king."

And presidential historian Michael Beschloss ironically pointed out on Twitter that Monday was Thomas Jefferson's birthday, noting the former president's belief in "limited executive power."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump's claim of 'total' authority over states denounced by GOP, Dems