The Slatest

Trump: Presidents Have Infinite Power but Cannot and Should Not Ever Be Relied On to Do Anything

Trump walking between White House columns, with Rose Garden bushes and flowers in the foreground
Trump outside the White House on Tuesday. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump on Monday on presidential power:

I have the ultimate authority. … When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.

Donald Trump two weeks ago on who is responsible for building emergency response stockpiles:

The states should have been building their stockpile. … The states should be building. We’re a backup. We’re not an ordering clerk. 

Donald Trump on Tuesday on who is responsible for conducting COVID-19 testing:

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Washington shouldn’t be doing that. We can’t be thinking about a Walmart parking lot that’s 2,000 miles away where we’re doing testing. … The governors are doing the testing. It’s now not up and it hasn’t been up to the federal government.

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Trump last month on the presidency’s role in the lack of preparation for the pandemic:

I don’t take responsibility at all.

All over the place, this guy! Former Slate staff writer Leon Neyfakh had a good observation about this a few days ago, as far as the president’s interest in the attention that power attracts not being matched with interest in its actual use:

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As did baseball player Danny Valencia(?) on Wednesday:

Danny Valencia, just past the end of a career as a reasonably helpful utility player, correctly identified the mystery—or, in a more hopeful world, the limits?—of Trump’s appeal: If your own boss acts like this, nobody wants to work for him. In baseball, when the manager starts talking this way, he knows he’s about to be fired.

For more on the impact of COVID-19, listen to today’s What Next.

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