Return to Transcripts main page


POTUS and First Lady Tested Positive for Coronavirus; Hope Hicks Tested Positive Earlier; Joe Biden Compelled to Have COVID Test; President Trump Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Top Aide Hope Hicks Earlier Diagnosed With COVID-19; Markets Affected By President Trump's Having COVID-19. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 2, 2020 - 03:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: A lot of things, what it means for our government, and so on and so forth. But Dana, we thank you for joining us. Best of luck in Southwest Pennsylvania. We appreciate that.


LEMON: You stay safe as well. And everybody, stay safe out there.

Again, unbelievable. This is new territory. I'm Don Lemon. I thank you so much for watching.

Our breaking news coverage of this stunning development continues now with my colleague Anderson Cooper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm Anderson Cooper in New York.

We are following the major breaking news. U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for the coronavirus. A statement from the White House doctor says they will quarantine at the White House while they recover. It also says they're doing well and the president will carry out his duties without disruption.

There was a lot we do not know at this moment just in terms of exactly when the president learned that he had tested positive and the first lady. Last word tonight that top aide -- after word last night that top aide Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID. She had been traveling with the president all week including at Tuesday's debate in Ohio. There you see them boarding the plane.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us. Also joining me is chief political correspondent Dana bash and chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

All right. So Kaitaln, let's just talk first of all about the timeline here. What is the latest information that you are getting? When did Hope Hicks test positive? Do we know exactly and the timeline of everybody else?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, Hope Hicks of course got on the plane with the president to Minnesota on Wednesday. We're told it was around that time she started being symptomatic, started showing symptoms and not feeling well. It's not clear when she was tested but we are told she quarantined in the plane on the way back.

Air Force One is really not that big so it's not clear where exactly she was. But then she tested positive at the White House on Thursday, we believe, yesterday morning of course. And that is where everything transpired from there.

What is remarkable is how long it took for us to find out about it. Because Anderson, I should remind viewers we didn't find out about this from the White House in any kind of press release or announcement or at the briefing that happened yesterday. And instead we found out because Bloomberg News first reported that Hicks had tested positive. And then of course the president later confirmed it.

So, there are still so many questions. But Anderson, what we do know as we waited for hours last night to find out if the president had tested positive, is that this is the biggest health threat to a sitting president that we have seen in decades.

And right now, his doctor says we are feeling well, but we are 32 days out from the election and of course there are massive questions that are going to be facing the president and his aides in the coming days over what they chose not to reveal, why they made those decisions and of course, why the president continued to go to a fundraiser that was inside indoors with some of his supporters on Thursday at his golf club in New Jersey despite knowing he had been around someone who tested positive.

COOPER: Right. So, let me just get a little deeper on this. Tuesday there was the debate in Cleveland. Hope Hicks was there with the president, correct?

COLLINS: Correct.

COOPER: And hardly anyone in the president's entourage wore a mask except for First Lady Melania Trump during that debate, is that correct?

COLLINS: Yes, but I think Melania actually took it off once she had sat down at the debate. But yes, Tiffany Trump, Laura Trump, Ivanka Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle the others seated there in the front rows are pictured not wearing masks while they're in the room while everyone else was wearing a mask.

COOPER: So that's Tuesday night. Wednesday as you said they went to Minnesota. Hope Hicks was there. The president was there. They all got -- we just showed video of Hope Hicks, Kushner, Dan Scavino, I think it was Nicholas Luna and Hicks all getting on Marine One. None of them are wearing masks. That's on Wednesday, the day -- there is Stephen Miller -- that's the day that she started to feel symptoms we understand, is that right?

COLLINS: Yes. That's our understanding base on the latest. And so, they get on Marine One which of course then get on Air Force One and go to Minnesota where the president has another closed-door fundraiser inside, not outside. And then he goes to the rally that was mostly outside in an airport hangar.

COOPER: And then she -- and again, we don't know if she is the person who -- she is -- as far as we know she is the first one that tested positive. We don't know if she is the one who spread it to others. It could have been the president who spread it to her. But you understand that she actually started getting symptoms on Air Force One on the way back or was feeling bad and was still allowed to get on Air Force One and, quote, unquote, "quarantine on the plane?"

COLLINS: So, it's not clear if she started feeling symptoms on the flight there while they were at the rally or on the way back. We just know that once they had already been in route to Minnesota, we're told that's when she started to feel symptomatic.


And we are told that she quarantined. But I really want to stress that we don't know exactly what that means.


COLLINS: Because you're on an airplane.

COOPER: Right.

COLLINS: It's not -- you can't really quarantine. There is not a ton of room on Air Force One. There are not suites that you can go into. So we are still trying to figure out what that means but that is what we are told by sources so far.

COOPER: Yes. I think it is important to note -- to point out what we do know as opposed to what we don't know because there is an awful lot that we don't know at this hour. But it is fascinating.

So, as far as we know she is the first person to feel symptoms or she's really the only person we know at this point feeling symptoms coming back Wednesday. You and, I had talked earlier in the night before it was revealed that the president and the first lady have tested positive.

They usually in the White House get tested, you know, in the mornings. So, do we know, was Hope Hicks feeling badly Wednesday and not tested until Thursday or do we know when she was tested?

COLLINS: So that's why this whole situation is raising questions about what we've been told about the testing policy at the White House. Because they had said previously and we had actually checked this out with people who actually were tested. That it was basically every morning they came in and if they were going to be meeting with the president they would get tested beforehand. So, of course, they would know before they were in proximity of the

president. But for Hope Hicks to not start feeling well until she is already on the way there, she likely would have been tested yesterday at the White House. So, it's not clear if that was the test that she got and it was a negative or what happened there.

But then of course, today, here is the question about the president's test, Anderson, and this is more important I believe tonight, because the president didn't seem to get tested until after this was already reported in the media. He told Sean Hannity in an interview after we spoke, that was in the 9 o'clock hour, that he had just been tested and so had the first lady and they were still waiting on their results. And that's why we didn't get them until closer to 1 a.m. Eastern Time. So, it seems like they waited until --


COOPER: OK, wait a minute.

COLLINS: -- it was publicly available.

COOPER: Wait a minute. That's relying on the president's honesty for when he got tested. If the president -- what you are saying is the president told Sean Hannity well, I -- we just got tested and we're waiting on it.


COOPER: But he is the only one saying that. No one else has confirmed that. Because that seems highly unlikely if Hope Hicks is -- if people were in the White House, there is reporting that a small group of people knew Thursday morning that Hope Hicks had tested positive.

If -- clearly, the president knew it. There is no way. I mean, if the President of the United States wasn't immediately tested once Hope Hicks was positive, that's criminally negligent. I mean, that's just -- that would be a huge breech of security.

And if he was tested, he was still allowed to go to New Jersey for a small fundraiser with a smaller staff which I guess indicates they knew there might be a problem and Kayleigh McEnany still gave a briefing to reporters. She was there on the trip and potentially had exposure. So, it becomes very important as to when exactly the president knew and when the president got tested.

COLLINS: Exactly. Because we were told that a very small group of officials knew Thursday morning that Hope Hicks had tested positive. So, despite that the president still went around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon to New Jersey for these indoors fundraiser.

So, we've asked, you know, was the president aware of this? They knew that Hope Hicks had been feeling symptomatic on the flight back. That was something that was well known among the people who were on Air Force One. And we've reached out to the White House press office to ask if

Kayleigh McEnany was one of those officials who knew Thursday morning that Hope Hicks had tested positive, yet held a briefing around 11.30 with reporters without wearing mask anyway, and did not inform us about what had transpired and did not even inform the reporters who had been on Air Force One with Hicks on Wednesday night in separate cabins granted, but still sharing the same plane that she had tested positive should they found out from the media.

COOPER: Sanjay, you know, obviously, we have -- you have done more than anybody extensive discussion of the importance of wearing masks, social distancing. We have pointed out time and time again. The fact that the White House has not been abiding by that, though the president has, as much as possible been isolated. Though, clearly, not as much as others who wear masks constantly.

We see this video of Hope Hicks walk, you know, they're walking to gaggle to Marine One on Wednesday. Nobody is wearing a mask. They are on a helicopter. They are on Air Force One. She starts feeling symptoms. Nevertheless, the president still goes Thursday even after the White House knows she has tested positive that the president has been exposed. I mean, from a medical standpoint, what do you make of this?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this, you know, obviously it shows a lack of -- lack of cautious -- caution by the people who you are seeing here not wearing the masks.


It's very concerning if what Kaitlan's reporting that, you know, who knew what, when in terms of their own status. People obviously should be cautious regardless. But this idea that people may have known that they came in contact with someone with COVID basic public health protocols are very clear on this. You've got to quarantine yourself at that point.

I think the point that you are making, Anderson, and it doesn't sound like that happened. That's regardless of whether your test results come back. Right? Now you know. And if this, if it worked in this country like it works in other places where you had adequate contact tracing. At the point that some was diagnosed people who were in contact with them would be told you now need to quarantine.

By the way, it doesn't matter if your test comes back negative today or tomorrow. You still need to quarantine because you could have a positive test a few days from now based on the exposure here. So, at a minimum --


COOPER: But Sanjay, from --

GUPTA: -- there was a lack of caution at a -- at a, you know, if you sort of look at this whole scenario, did they just sort of throw caution to the wind here and say, you know, we are going to hope that, you know, this transmission didn't happen. I don't know. It's tough to say.

But you are absolutely right. Confine settings. No masks. Highly contagious virus. Now known that there is a person who has the disease. Things should have happened. And this has been a pattern, you know, that we've seen over and over again, Anderson, as you pointed out. But we need to have full transparency now going forward.

Because it's not just the health of the people that we're talking about right now. It's many, many, many more people now.


GUPTA: It's people that came in contact with people with COVID. It's their family members now. There's tough discussions that are probably happening in households at the highest levels of government right now because of what is transpiring.

COOPER: And Dana, this is where transparency and the record of the administration is so damaging right now. Because, you know, we have seen them time and again lie about stuff, even the president's health we don't really know much about. He goes to the hospital I believe it was back in November for a surprise visit. Nobody says what it really was for, even his medical records were not really sure about some of the stuff that his doctor had said the details of it.

They need to be transparent and it's very -- it doesn't even seem at this point that they've been transparent just in so far.

BASH: Not at all. I mean, the problem as you and Sanjay and Kaitlan laid it out are twofold. Number one is it's very alarming from a medical point of view. Not only because it's the health of the President of the United States and the first lady.

But as Sanjay said everybody who came in contact with them and then everybody who came in contact with them. But it's also alarming because we -- there are so many unanswered questions. And the fact that we had to get this information about Hope Hicks who is among the closest people to the President of the United States in terms of the relationship and physicality that we had to get this by source.

It was kind of, you know, leaked out instead of doing it in a formal, responsible way at the time when they found out or at least close to it, at least in a way that could protect more people around them is, I want to say it's unbelievable but it is rather believable given everything that we have seen the way that the White House from the president on down has behaved with regard to treating this virus in a serious manner.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: Until this point.


BASH: And the fact that you have to ask the question which is a really legitimate question of Kaitlan, well how do we even know the president is telling the truth when he told Sean Hannity he was just tested. I think that speaks volumes.

COOPER: Well, I am not saying that to be, you know, catty. It's just that --


BASH: No, it's a really important question.

COOPER: -- if people -- if people in the White House knew Thursday morning that Hope Hicks had tested positive and that she, you know, everybody knew she had been with the president Tuesday, Wednesday, I find it incomprehensible that they would allow the President of the United States to go for the entire day of Thursday without getting tested until just before he went on Sean Hannity. I mean, that just seems negligent. Sanjay, just from a medical --


BASH: Anderson, there was --

COOPER: Yes. Go ahead.

BASH: Yes.


BASH: I was just going to say I just want to tell you that I do have a very good understanding of how negligent the White House was when it comes to so-called contact tracing.

I mean, remember, not only has the president been, you know, with his aides who have been with the press. He's not only been on a plane going to different places. He also was preparing for a debate. And he had a lot of people around him.


And my understanding is that a lot of people around him for hours and hours in a very small room not wearing masks. And my understanding is that some of those people didn't know about Hope Hicks testing positive when they should have known.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: I mean, that just kind of tells you everything that you need to know.

COOPER: So, Sanjay, again, Hope Hicks is the only one we know. She is the one we know tested positive first. We don't know exactly when. We believe Kaitlan is saying because they usually test people in the mornings that it would have been Thursday morning but she was feeling symptoms Wednesday.

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: Is it possible she was infected that she had it Tuesday or somebody else had it Tuesday when they were at the debate. Should Vice President Biden get immediately tested?

GUPTA: Well, I think the answer to the question for Vice President Biden is, yes. He does need to get immediately tested. There is an event now that has occurred when he's come in proximity to someone who has COVID.

And as you well know, you can, you know, going back to Hope Hicks, you can be very contagious, some argue even more contagious before you develop some of these symptoms. It's a pre-symptomatic period. So, you know, trying to tie the timeline here to the testing, you know, may not reveal much. Because you could have -- you could have the virus. You could have even be contagious before you develop symptoms. We don't know. Was the president potentially the one who spread this virus to Hope Hicks, for example even though Hope Hicks had symptoms first.

COOPER: And let me -- on that debate stage --


GUPTA: With regards to the president's testing --

COOPER: They may -- they may even socially distant but there was a lot of yelling and spewing and, you know --

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: -- liquid coming out of mouths while yelling.

GUPTA: Yes. And it's not an exact science. Right? They say six feet. We are going to keep you six feet away, which, you know, they are trying to be cautious here understandably but this is not an exact science. And you're inside. You know, we have learned a lot about this virus even over the last several weeks in terms of -- last several months in terms of the idea that it could become aerosolized. Right?

So, it's not just six feet away. If you are indoors, the idea that, think of the virus more like potentially like smoke like it actually could waft into the air. That's why you got to be so careful.

But to answer your question the vice president absolutely -- former Vice President Biden absolutely has to be tested. I'm sure they have probably considered that already. He may know about this already.

But also going back to President Trump's testing, who knows what happened there? Maybe he did get tested, and it came back, and then they said well, let's test again. You know, we're not sure about the result, let's do it again. And so, they are waiting for a confirmatory test.

Regardless, Anderson, I think to your point it doesn't matter. He had a close contact with someone with COVID by, I guess Thursday morning. Yes -- hat they -- yesterday morning. And so, at that point, you got to quarantine yourself. Right? You could potentially be a vector at that point for the spread of the virus. And it sounds like that didn't happen. So that's very concerning. And

again, you know, I mean, we need full transparency here. It's not just about the health of the president. And we obviously statistically, and odds are that he will do well and recover from this.

But it's everybody else now, and their families and they are worried. And they are having hard conversations this morning. Because wait a second, how close were you to this person with COVID?


GUPTA: And then came home and you can't get tested. So, you know, they got to figure that out.

COOPER: Yes. I got to go to Brian Stelter in just a second. But Sanjay, just very quickly, so right now the president and the first lady say they are, you know, I guess they are quarantining and are they -- would they be quarantining separately in different rooms, and were they be -- who would be allowed to go to them? Would everybody have to wear serious PPE?

GUPTA: So, first of all, with regard to the two of them, given that they both have the infection they don't necessarily need to quarantine separately. This is a discussion topic that's come up among infectious disease doctors for household contacts overall.

As far as people who are now interacting with the president, first of all, you know, it's -- you got to treat it like what it is, a contagious virus. So, people who are coming in contact with someone who has known COVID do need to wear personal protective equipment.

And you know, again at the White House we know that there is regular testing but there maybe this thing of people who have come in contact with the president, who will be coming in contact with the president and the first lady that are getting tested.

So, all of that and some of those protocols should have already been in place but now for certain they have to be in place. And again, I want to emphasize, the President needed to be quarantined regardless of what the test results showed. He had close contact with someone with known COVID. The public health guidelines, the CDC guidelines are unequivocal on this. So, you know, it didn't even matter what the test showed.


COOPER: And he has to wear a mask now of he, if he was responsible, he would have to wear a mask so that anybody coming in the room is not vulnerable to him.


COOPER: Or less vulnerable.

GUPTA: Yes. Yes. He, you know, and again, we all have to behave like we have the virus. If you are coming in contact with somebody in an indoor setting you have to wear a mask. But absolutely. He now has the virus in his body. We know that. That's what the test showed.


GUPTA: So, he has to wear a mask to protect those around him.

COOPER: All right. I want to bring in now chief media correspondent Brian Stelter in New York. Brian, there are so many different sort of -- sort of ripple effect of this.


COOPER: You know, for those watching the election and interested in what this means, just in terms of the -- I mean, on its face of it the idea that there's going to be another presidential debate or two more presidential debates seems, I mean, in this moment, and again, still so much not known but hard to imagine.

STELTER: Right. If I was going to bet, I would say there will not be in-person debates. But every day there is something new. That's 2020. This is of course news that is rocking the entire world. That's not an exaggeration. European stocks are trading lower right now. The Dow Futures are down. The markets are reacting to this around the world.

And Americans waking up to this news in the middle of the night or waking up starting your day in the East Coast. My wife just woke up. This is a scary story. And I think we should acknowledge that, Anderson. It is a frightening thing to hear in the same way that every time anyone gets tested for COVID and wait for their result it can be scary.

And when you find out you tested positive it can be very frightening. I hope the president is coping with that well and feeling just fine. But let's recognize the fear of this. At the same time, we know the president has excellent healthcare. he is in much better condition to handle this than many people that have succumb to his illness.

But I think we should acknowledge the fear factor. And that's why the markets have been rattled by this story. You know, the president flew to New Jersey. Just earlier today, on Thursday of course he flew to New Jersey. And I was thinking, Anderson, when you enter the state of New Jersey or you drive in to New York City there are giant signs that tell you if you have been to a coronavirus hot spot area, you must quarantine for 14 days.

Now the president has been defying the rules all along. He's been holding rallies indoors. He's been breaking all the rules all along. So now this is the ultimate test about whether he'll show actual presidential leadership. And I just, in terms of we're being watch around the world, Anderson, it is a test for him on the global stage because he is a role model in other countries as well.

COOPER: Well, Brian, we already know if you -- I mean, the fact that he went on this fundraising trip --


STELTER: Yes, to Bedminster.

COOPER: -- to New Jersey on Thursday.


COOPER: He had a reduced staff which indicates they knew, they already knew, based on reporting, we know that it was already known by a small group in the White House that Hope Hicks had tested positive --


COOPER: -- by Thursday, sometime Thursday morning, the fact the president still went knowing he had, you know, very close contact with somebody who has tested positive is -- it is irresponsible.

STELTER: It's a bad sign. It's a bad sign. Look, I was reading something in The Atlantic Peter Nicholas wrote. He said I arrive at the White House this morning I was struck by the lack of safety protocols, the most famous address in America now feels like a coronavirus breeding ground.

You want to know when he wrote that? He wrote that in August and it's October now. This has been a problem for months.

COOPER: The hypocrisy obviously is something that, you know, everyone hopes that the president and the first lady get through this.


COOPER: And all indications are they have excellent medical care or should have excellent medical care and hopefully everything will be fine. But, you know, just kind of a when you step back from it, the president who has downplayed this virus from the beginning saying it was going to go away, who, you know, just this week and the last several weeks has been saying, you know, we are rounding a bend. And whose administration likes to use the word game-changer every time there is any positive development of any kind of --


COOPER: -- you know, they've said a lot of different therapeutics were gamechangers. This is -- this is the biggest gamechanger so far there has been. I mean, this, potentially for the election, for national security, for -- I mean, this is a game changer in the history of COVID.

STELTER: And you may find that many people feel so much sympathy for the president. People may be -- Americans may be very concerned about his health. There may be a rally around the flag effect that benefits the president. You know, we can leave the political talk for another time. But those are all open questions.

But this is the president who earlier on Thursday said the end of the pandemic is in sight. Another contradiction of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts. You know, when I interviewed Dr. Fauci a few days ago he was very clear this is going to be a long, hard winter. And this long, hard winter just got longer, just got more difficult because of the president's illness.


COOPER: Yes. Well, it will also be interesting to see well now that the president himself has it, does he actually listen to the experts --


STELTER: To the Fauci's. Yes.

COOPER: -- who he has around them, Fauci and Birx who have long experience with pandemics or does he continue to consult the radiologist, Scott Atlas, who is the person who has had the president's ear it seems most recently?

Brian, I appreciate it.

Just weeks to go until the U.S. election. So many questions. How will the president's diagnosis affect the campaign? What does it mean for Joe Biden? Our coverage continues straight ahead.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I mean, I have a mask right here. I will put a mask on, you know, when I think I need it. I don't wear mask like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen.


COOPER: It is entirely possible the President of the United States had coronavirus then. We do not know. We know that -- according to reporting, as far as we believe, Thursday morning is when Hope Hicks found that she had tested positive.


We don't know if in fact it was Thursday morning or she was tested Wednesday.

She apparently was feeling symptoms Wednesday when she was at an event with the president in Minnesota, returned on Air Force One, feeling symptoms. Then the White House knew Thursday morning. The president went to a trip to New Jersey fundraising with the knowledge that Hope Hicks had tested positive.

Nobody was informed until the story leaked out. It wasn't officially announced until when really just until the president tweeted it late Thursday night. In a statement the White House physician said that Mr. Trump is doing well and will carry out his duties without disruption. We don't know if he is showing symptoms. They didn't say that in a statement. There is a lot they have not said. The result comes hours after it was learned the president top aide Hope Hicks tested positive. She's been traveling with the president really all week, went to the debates on Tuesday, Minnesota on Wednesday.

Joining me now CNN political analyst, Carl Bernstein. Carl, this is obviously a case where transparency matters and where the details matter. You know, there's a lot of ramifications for this, not to mention even on the confirmation process for the new potential Supreme Court justice.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Every aspect of our national life is different today than it was yesterday. And I think the first place to start and take a deep breath is that this is a true and a unique national security emergency, an emergency unlike anything in our history.

Let's take a look first. You have to consider the markets are affected by this in a very big way. But more than that, start from the point where many members of the executive branch, not just the president, perhaps the vice president, many people in the White House, on Capitol Hill who have come in contact with people in the White House may be affected from their being exposed to this virus. So, we don't know the extent of its spread but a contagion has now been unleashed in the executive branch of our government.

Aside from that we have to look at our political system. Right now, we have an election going on and we have no idea where that election is going to go in terms of what rules it is going to follow from here on then. Who are the candidates? And how are they going to be affected? How are they going to react in terms of the procedures? How has this changed the very complexion?

COOPER: Do you see the debates taking place?

BERNSTEIN: I would sincerely doubt it unless it is done somehow almost like Zoom. But I think we are a long way even now from having those answers. I think, first, you also got to take a look at adversaries trying to take advantage of what is a very destabilizing event. This is Putin's dream among other things unless, of course, he wants Donald Trump to win so badly and Trump might be in a waiting (ph) position in terms of being reelected as a result of this or being ill.

Whatever the case, this is a destabilizing event in every aspect. First, take a look at what is going on around the country where we have Republican governors who had fought opening up their -- thought closing down their states and going to mask requirements.

There is going to be a real reevaluation all over the country in terms of the science of this because it is clear that Donald Trump's rejection of science has failed us and it has failed him in the extreme and members of his family including his wife. I cannot imagine that we are going to have the same cavalier attitude by many of our leaders around the country, Republicans in particular, towards this virus after this event.

COOPER: Well, I mean, Carl, but the flipside of that is -- if you are expecting some sort of transformation on the part of the president, it could just, you know, we have seen it in Brazil, Bolsonaro, the president there, you know tested positive and made much about the fact that it was -- you know, that he got through it fine. This president could do the very same. Hopefully, the president is fine. For all we know, he then says, you know, that this is not a big deal. We just don't know the follow on effects of this.

BERNSTEIN: No, we don't. But what we know is that we are in a kind of emergency that we have to stay calm about but recognize that this is a destabilizing event. The coronavirus itself was a destabilizing event. And now we have the same way it took us by surprise.


Now this is taking us by surprise. And everything is different today than it was yesterday. Including the role of the vice president of the United States who now knows he is in a position where he might have to take over temporarily.

COOPER: Yes. I will let you get the call. Whoever is calling you really wants to talk to you. We will check in with you a little bit later. Arlette Saenz is --

BERNSTEIN: These are my colleagues.

COOPER: Yes. Arlette Saenz is standing by as well. I'll let you have the debate on Tuesday. Again, we don't know if Tuesday -- we don't know who it was who brought COVID-19 into the inner circle of the White House and into the president and to the first lady. All we know is that Hope Hicks is the one that we learned tested positive first. That we were able to find out about.

It is very possible when you look back at what happened on Tuesday night, members of the Trump entourage. I don't think any of them were wearing masks except for the first lady in the audience. And I think there is some question of whether she took it off.

She certainly took off her mask when she went on stage to stand next to the president. They didn't have any kind of hugging, which the Bidens did. So, you know, I guess that would have theoretically protected her, but you know, clearly she got it as well.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That is right. And sitting in that debate hall and looking out over the audience, there was a stark difference when look over at the Biden's side when everyone for the most part was wearing masks from what I saw. And you looked over at the Trump side of the audience and the guest. And you had the family sitting in that front row and they were not wearing masks.

And we are still waiting to hear for a response from the Biden campaign about this positive COVID test for the president and the first lady. But one big question will be whether the former vice president is going to go and get tested himself. You know, we saw the two of them standing on stage at those podiums.

We do not know if they had any further contact backstage or whether Biden or his wife or staffers came in contact with Trump staffers or the president's family. But certainly, you know, we will be trying to find out if the former vice president does intend to get a coronavirus test after this.

Now we do know that the campaign has told us in the past that Biden is getting tested weekly for COVID-19. They do not tell us when that happens. They only said that if he tests positive that they will inform the public about it. But they have said that he is going to get tested on a weekly basis. Everyone that is around the former vice president gets tested. The staffers that are around him. The traveling press that travels with him is getting tested for COVID-19.

When I have gone to events at the very least they check our temperatures and ask for us to fill out a questionnaire related to COVID-19. And every one who is at that debate was supposed to undergo coronavirus testing before they entered that hall.

I got tested myself as soon as I arrived in Cleveland. But one thing for Joe Biden. You know, he has constantly over and over talked about the importance of taking precautions to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread. He -- we see him wearing the mask a lot.

COOPER: We just lost her. Stay with us for more of the breaking news coverage of President Trump testing positive for coronavirus. It's not just a health issue, there's obviously serious national security implications as well. More ahead.


TRUMP: We are doing it. We are rounding the turn. We are rounding the turn. Under my leadership, prosperity will surge, normal life. I love normal life.




COOPER: Welcome back, I am Anderson Cooper. We are turning now to our the breaking news, the president of the United States along with the first lady have tested positive for COVID-19. They have now quarantined themselves at the executive mansion in Washington. Both are according to a statement from the White House doctor are doing well.

This news came shortly after word emerge that top aide Hope Hicks has the virus as well. She's been traveling with Mr. Trump all week. She accompanied him to the presidential debate in Ohio. She also accompanied him to another event in Minnesota with the president on Wednesday. With us now CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and CNN

national security analyst Samantha Vinograd is here as well. Nia, should be said, there is so much we do not know about the timeline of this. About who infected the president? About how that occurred? Hope, obviously, there are a lot of focus on Hope Hicks. But at this point we only know -- as far as we know, she's the first person we found out tested positive. There may have been others before that we don't know about yet.

But just in terms of transparency and the lack of it that this administration has had, moving forward, it's very -- I mean, in a normal administration it would be very important to have transparency so that the American people and global markets and the world would have a sense, an accurate sense of what exactly is happening with the president of the United States. What is your sense though about how this could impact the election and frankly everything else?


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, that is the thing. I feel there is so much about this election. People ask me about the outcome or what something will mean to the outcome. And the answer is often I don't know. And I think that is the same with this. We have these debates that are coming out. There's been so much debate about whether the debates are even going to happen before this. And so that becomes a big question.


COOPER: I can't imagine them having debates. I can't imagine them, I mean, just in my health standpoint. Why take that risk?

HENDERSON: Exactly. Why take that risk given what we have seen quite frankly from this administration and this president. Such a cavalier attitude about masks. You know, we talk about Hope Hicks and the other people in the White House and have it Donald Trump and Melania Trump.

But what about all those other people that they come in contact with? The maids and the butlers and the people who serves up this person and who might not have the same type of health care and you know, doctors, world class doctors attending to them.

So, you know, this is incredibly sad. It's incredibly worrisome. You know, you think about this just as a human, not even as a political reporter. But you know, you obviously pray for the president. You pray for the people around him. But we have had such a lack of transparency, lack of credibility from this president and such a cavalier attitude about masks.

We saw that in the debate of course and throughout the last seven months. People have been grappling with this. I know folks who have had COVID. It was terrible for them. You wish the best for this president and hopes he has a speedy recovery as well as the folks around him. But again, there are so many unknowns about this disease.

COOPER: Samantha, just in terms of the national security implications and foreign relation implications.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Anderson, from a national security perspective, we are deep into the danger zone. On a strategic level, the notion that the president was unwilling or unable to do what was necessary to protect himself doesn't inspire confidence in the credibility of the United States to confront this global challenge. That is a major win for our adversaries.

And on a tactical level, Anderson, this is a moment of prime vulnerability. We know that our adversaries, whether it be nation states or criminal actors look for vulnerabilities in the national security apparatus. I have been in the White House during a crisis. I can tell you that what is happening right now is crisis mitigation.

Critical resources are being diverted to try to mitigate the threat. To try to isolate the spread of the pandemic. That means those resources are not able to be used elsewhere.

Furthermore, the fact of the matter is that the president of the United States is compromised when it comes to doing his job. He, Hope Hicks and most likely several other members of the senior national security apparatus are not going to be able to fully perform their duties and responsibilities.

That means that there are vulnerabilities in the coverage of national security threats. We don't have all hands on deck. And this is a moment -- a key vulnerability when it comes to national security.

COOPER: Nia-Malika Henderson, Samantha Vinograd, I appreciate it. Back with us, chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, what information do you want to know from the White House? I mean at this point just in terms of -- yes, what information do we not know that we need to know?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think one of the biggest things reading that summary from Dr. (inaudible), it is still not entirely clear to me if the president has any symptoms or not. They say he's convalescing at home. That could be just a word choice, I mean he is in isolation now.

Typically, isolation is for people who are tested positive. But we don't know clearly from that memo at least, whether or not he has any symptoms. They say he is doing well. Which is great to hear. But I think the symptoms are important.

I think a big thing, Anderson, is really, you know, the issue that you have been raising. So, we know that there's very regular testing, even daily testing that goes on at the White House. Who knew what when in terms of this test results. Now, what is being done you know, more importantly to try and now protect people. To alert them that they have this close contact. To make sure other people can get tested.

And again, I want to make this point. Regardless of what the testing shows for people who have had close contact with someone with COVID, those people need to be quarantined so they don't continue to spread the virus to others. They may need to be quarantined within their own homes, if they have symptoms they may need to be in the hospitals.


So, are all of these are important points, but I think the symptoms -- when do the testing results come back? When is the confirmatory test done? Is that why it took so long, all of that and what is the plan for contact tracing? We are talking about people as you know, at the highest levels of government.

COOPER: Yes. You know, as I said, Hope Hicks is the only person we know, or she is the first one that we know tested positive that we publicly learned tested positive. If in fact it was Thursday morning that she tested positive. We were told she started to feel some symptoms returning or right -- anyway -- sometime on the trip to Minnesota on Wednesday with the president. That is her getting on marine one with no mask with Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller and others.

If she started feeling symptoms some point that day, whether she got tested Wednesday night or Thursday morning, found out Thursday. People in the White House knew Thursday morning she had tested positive. We didn't find out until Thursday evening. What does that mean in terms of when she might have become infected?

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: Assuming she -- there were regular tests that she was getting.

GUPTA: Yes. No, this is really important point. I mean I think sometimes the sort of belief is that you have an exposure, you can immediately test yourself if the exposure led to your infection, you would test positive at that point. Not necessarily. There's two really important things to keep in mind. You could have an exposure, let's say on a Monday, test negative, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then test positive on Friday from that exposure on Monday.

COOPER: Is that because it builds up in your system?

GUPTA: Yes. You are building up enough of the virus to be detected. These types of tests that I believe they are talking about at the White House are the preliminary chain reaction PCR type tests which are pretty sensitive, but still it can take time. But the other point is that as you well know Anderson, when does someone become infectious or contagious, right?

What we know is that people can be contagious even the most contagious before they developed symptoms. So, I am curious about the time that someone like Hope Hicks had symptoms. But I am actually curious about what was happening in the day or two or three even before she developed symptoms.

COOPER: Wow. That is fascinating.

GUPTA: Because that is going to be really critical days too.

COOPER: Right. GUPTA: That is what makes contact tracing so critical.

COOPER: Right. That is Tuesday night.

GUPTA: Exactly.

COOPER: If she getting symptoms Wednesday, then the question is when did she actually become infected and when did she start being capable of spreading the virus, whether or not she is the one that spread the virus to the president or not. As soon as you are infected can you start spreading the virus?

GUPTA: It usually, I mean, you know, it is not an exact thing. People will say three to four days typically after exposure. It could be sooner and some people longer in others. It's not probably immediate. Like, you know I have been exposed. I am now immediately contagious. That is not the case. But you know, a couple or three days.

But I think one other things about this virus that is so different than other viruses. We have known now since March is that you can spread it even if you don't have symptoms. Everyone knows that I think by now. But what they may be reminding of now is that you can actually be to your most infectious or you're most contagious at the time when you were pre-symptomatic, right before you developed symptoms.

And that's going to be a part of the contact tracing here that really needs to be done. And it's why when you ask an important question of you know, what are the remaining things that need to be answered. Is the president symptomatic right now or not? And it is critical, obviously for his own health, but also now as they go back and figure out the contact tracing. Who did he have close contact with?

Those people need to be getting calls now to tell them that whatever they have on their day's activity today, they need to be cancelled. Because they need to be quarantined at this point. They are going to say, well, I'll get a test. Yes, go get a test. That's important. But that doesn't answer the question fully. That just tells you that if you have a positive or a negative test. If you have a positive test then you know. If it is negative, it could pop up positive several days from now even from an exposure, you know, in the past.

COOPER: Yes. We are going to take a quick break because I want to talk to you Sanjay coming up about the protocols at the White House, because that has come into question. There's a lot of people who visit the White House recently. (Inaudible), a tweet from a reporter in August saying it seemed like a COVID breeding ground because the protocols for people visiting were so lax.

I want to ask you about that based on what we know about the president's movements. That will be in the next hour. The president of the United States testing positive for coronavirus.


If you are just joining us, major breaking news. It's always got medical, it's got political, and it's got national security implications. I am Anderson Cooper. Our coverage continues in just a moment.


COOPER: And we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Anderson Cooper. And we are following the major breaking news. U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus.


The president tweeted just before 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time, tonight FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine, our recovery process immediately. We will get through this together.