As Donald Trump struggled to read a prepared speech today in front of a military hospital ship, he announced that he’s considering placing parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut under quarantine. This set off shockwaves, as it was surely intended to do. But what’s he really up to?
First, let’s be clear: legal experts are saying that the President of the United States does not have the legal authority or the practical ability to make such a quarantine happen. He’d need the approval of Congress before he could even invoke such a thing, and he’d need the approval of the Governors involved before he could enforce such a thing.
The National Guard in each state answers to the Governor, not the President. Without the approval of people like Andrew Cuomo, Trump can’t magically send the National Guard in to quarantine New York any more than he could magically make it rain tomorrow. This is yet another instance of Trump threatening to do an awful yet impossible thing, as a way of trying to distract us from his own failures, while trying to tilt the political landscape in his favor.
Yesterday we saw Donald Trump flat out admit that he’s allowing people in Michigan and Washington to die because he doesn’t like their Governors. But Trump does like Florida’s corrupt Governor Ron DeSantis, who has begun trying to blame New Yorkers for his own state’s failed response to the coronavirus crisis. Trump is surely pushing this imaginary quarantine as a way of trying to boost DeSantis’ argument that Florida’s impending disaster is somehow the fault of New York.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report