Trump claims without evidence that he can ‘override’ governors in ‘many different ways’ if they don’t allow houses of worship to reopen

Trump announced new voluntary federal guidance last week for places of worship to open their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic. He claimed at the time that he had the authority to override governors who did not allow their states to comply with the guidance.

Asked by a reporter on Tuesday what authority he had to “override” governors on the matter, the President doubled down on his claim.

“I can absolutely do it if I want to, and I don’t think I’m going to have to, because it’s starting to open up,” Trump said.

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“We need people that are going to be leading us in faith. And we’re opening ’em up, and if I have to, I will override any governor that wants to play games. If they want to play games, that’s OK, but we will win, and we have many different ways where I can override them,” the President continued.

He also said the reopening of houses of worship should be the choice of worshippers and religious leaders, not governors.

“There may be some areas where the pastor or whoever may feel that it’s not quite ready and that’s OK, but let that be the choice of the congregation and the pastor,” Trump said.

The federal guidance issued last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers leeway to organizations to decide what they should do to limit the spread of the virus, and the CDC describes the guidelines as “general considerations,” “suggestions” and “non-binding public health guidance for consideration only.”

During the press briefing with the President announcing the new guidelines last week, White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany underscored that reopening was at the discretion of governors and religious leaders.
The CDC guidance recommends religious institutions provide soap and hand sanitizer, encourage the use of cloth masks and clean their facilities daily if they want to open while the coronavirus is still spreading. These institutions should also promote social distancing and consider limiting the sharing of objects such as books and hymnals, the CDC said.

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