GOP Governors Contradict Trump's Claim That President Will Decide If States Reopen: 'This Will Definitely Come Down Upon State Decision'

The Republican governors of New Hampshire and Maryland countered a claim made by Donald Trump in a series of Monday tweets, in which the president argued that it would be his "decision," not the governors', when states begin reopening their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu was asked about Trump's tweets during a Monday afternoon interview with CNN while discussing New Hampshire's response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The governor was asked whether it would be his call to reopen his state.

The GOP governor noted that it was his local government's decision "through executive order" to shut down nonessential businesses, transition restaurants to takeout only and ban gatherings of more than 10 people. "All these executive orders are state executive orders, and so therefore it would be up to the state and the governor to undo a lot of that," he said.

"A lot of this will definitely come down upon state decision," Sununu added.

Chris Sununu and Larry Hogan
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, left, and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. Both state leaders say it's their decision, not the president's, when to reopen their states' economies. Shannon Finney and John Lamparski/Getty

Later on CNN, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also disagreed with the president's assessment.

"Well, it's not my understanding of the Constitution," he said when he was asked about Trump's remarks on Twitter. The Republican governor noted that his state was happy for the federal government to "weigh in" and would "love to have the president's cooperation," but he said the decision to reopen would come down to "individual governors."

"Governors made decisions to take various actions in their states based on what they thought was right for their state, based on the facts on the ground, talking with doctors and scientists," Hogan said. "And I think individual governors who made those decisions will have the ultimate decision about what to do with their states."

But Trump presented a very different assessment on Twitter just a few hours before the two GOP governors' interviews with CNN.

"For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect," Trump wrote.

"It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue," he added. "A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!"

The president's Monday remarks also appeared at odds with his previous deference to individual governors in the decisions about whether to issue stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. Many health experts over the past few weeks have urged the president to impose a nationwide lockdown, but the administration had repeatedly said the decision should be left up to state leaders.

....It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020

"I don't think we'll ever find that necessary," Trump said on March 20 when asked about the possibility of a national lockdown. He noted that some states had already implemented such measures when they believed it was necessary.

On April 1, he again deferred to governors, noting that each state was dealing with a different level of the outbreak.

"There are some states that are different," the president said during a press conference. "There are some states that don't have much of a problem."

Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, expressed his agreement with the president's decision.

"We trust the governors and the mayors to understand their people and understand whether or not they feel like they can trust the people in their states to make the right decisions," Adams said during an interview with Good Morning America.