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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Trump And First Lady Test Positive For Coronavirus; Trump Top Aide Hope Hicks Tests Positive For COVID-19. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 2, 2020 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[05:30:23]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Donald J. Trump and first lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for the coronavirus. A statement from the White House doctor said they're doing well and will quarantine -- or stay in isolation at the White House while they recover.

The president's results came just a few hours after the news last night that top aide Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID. Exactly when she did, unclear. It was known by Thursday morning by some in the White House, though, that she had tested positive. They didn't announce it until reporters broke the story.

And the president announced it -- talked about it with Sean Hannity at 9:00 on Thursday night, saying he had just been tested with the first lady. They were -- he claimed they were still waiting for results. And then at 1:00 a.m., he tweeted that he had tested positive, as had the first lady.

She'd been traveling with the president all week -- Hope Hicks had -- including at Tuesday's debate in Ohio. Unclear if she may have been positive then or if anybody -- or if the president was, unclear.

So the question, of course, is where does that leave the election with 32 days until Election Day?

Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen joins me now. Hilary, can you imagine -- can you see the Biden campaign being willing to even have two more debates just on a safety basis? That -- why would they take that risk?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Hi, Anderson.

Well, as a -- as a practical matter, if you're -- if you're quarantining for two weeks, the next debate is going to be postponed because that falls within the two-week period.

You know, I -- look, Joe Biden is a gentleman. He cares about it. I'm sure he's going to wake up this morning and wish the president and the first lady well because that's just the kind of guy he is.

And the Biden campaign has been really careful about their campaigning, about the events that they've held. About everything that they have done, Joe Biden has been consistent in doing everything according to public health guidelines and I don't think that's going to change. But I also don't think it's going to mean that he's going to back off or slow down or stop campaigning.

I mean, this is Donald Trump's problem. He wreaked havoc on the country with this pandemic and now he is dealing with those consequences, both on a -- on a -- on a terrible personal level but also from a -- from a political and electoral level as well.

COOPER: For the Trump campaign, what do you think campaigning looks like for the next two weeks, three weeks for their -- I mean, for the next 30 -- you know, until the election? If the president -- if he's listening to medical guidance, he stays in isolation for 14 days. I don't know that he will but that's what the responsible thing to do is for other people's safety, let alone his own health.

Do you think it's possible that he doesn't do that? That he continues to have rallies?

ROSEN: I would -- well, nothing this president does shocks me anymore. I -- he cannot do that. He cannot put the security and safety of other people so at risk. On the other hand, we've seen how much havoc he can wreak just by sitting in his room with his phone and his social media accounts.

So I'm not comforted one bit by the fact that he has to stay home alone in the White House. I think people around him occasionally keep him in check. If there's no one to keep him in check, I don't actually know what we can expect. But I -- there is no way he can do rallies, there's no way he can do this.

But let's be clear about something else. The majority of the American people already believe that the president has given us bad information on this pandemic -- that he has been wrong on this. We know that from all of the polling, so this really isn't going to change that. I also don't think it's necessarily going to change his baseline of supporters.

What I do think it does is change the focus back on the election to the fact that this can affect everyone and does affect everyone, and the president can't suggest so otherwise. And, Joe Biden's message that has been consistent and clear about health care, about safety, about this pandemic, I think rings louder and louder and that's --

COOPER: That's a really important point. That's a really important point that you made and I hadn't thought of it a) because I'm not as smart as you, and b) because it's 5:00 a.m. and --

[05:35:06]

ROSEN: Oh, you are.

COOPER: -- I haven't been doing anything. But I think that's a really key point.

The president clearly wanted to be talking about anything other than coronavirus in this next stretch of time and that was clear from all the things he'd been doing and saying. It's impossible now not to talk about coronavirus --

ROSEN: Right.

COOPER: -- because he, himself, has it. And that is a message which speaks very loudly to the entire world. A good point.

Hilary Rosen, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

ROSEN: Take care.

COOPER: Ahead, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back. Our breaking news coverage continues.

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[05:40:21]

COOPER: Our breaking news continues.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump said to be doing well, according to the White House doctor, after testing positive for COVID-19. They're now in isolation at the White House. In a statement, the White House doctor says the president will carry out his duties without disruption.

The results came just a few hours after we learned his -- or at least our knowledge of the results came just a few hours after we learned that his top adviser Hope Hicks also tested positive for the virus. Hicks has traveled with the president a number of times over the past few days. Was at Tuesday's debate, was in -- they were together Wednesday at another campaign event in Minnesota, often seen without masks.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with me now.

So, Sanjay, just in hindsight, the -- was the Trump-Biden debate, on Tuesday, set up in a safe enough way? I mean, obviously, we had -- we've talked about them.

They were socially-distant. They were probably more than six feet. I'm not sure of the exact distance but it looks anywhere from maybe eight to 10 feet distance from each other.

But they were looking at each other. The president was yelling loud and stuff was coming out of both people's mouths.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

COOPER: Was it safe?

GUPTA: Well, I think -- I don't think you could say it was safe. I think you can say that they tried to do the best job they can -- they could in setting that up in the midst of a -- of a pandemic with a very contagious virus that's circulating. I mean, it is worth pointing out that both men are considered vulnerable.

And my parents are in their 70s. They live in Florida and they've been basically told to stay at home since March. They watch this and they think well, we're staying at home for the last several months and two people around our age are up there in this sort of setting.

So I don't think you could say that it was safe. And now, in retrospect, given what has happened -- the president being diagnosed now with COVID -- you have to go back and really evaluate these situations again.

Was there a significant amount of potential spread there? And I think the answer is going to come back yes. I mean, people are going to have to be tested now and maybe even quarantined as a result of that event.

COOPER: So if -- we know that they both -- we were told, I should say, that both received -- both took tests -- COVID tests before that debate. Whether -- assume they took it the same day. Don't know for sure exactly what time they took it.

Is it safe to say that the president was not positive then if there was a COVID test done?

GUPTA: Well -- so, here's how I would look at that.

First of all, you can have a false-negative test. So that's one of the concerns about these tests all along is that they're pretty -- they're pretty valuable if you get a positive result back. Then you know you have it.

If you get a negative result back, is it a true negative, is it a false negative? You don't know. You shouldn't predicate all of your behavior then on that. You should still wear a mask, keep physical distance -- all that sort of stuff.

But the other issue is that if you truly had a negative test right before you're interacting with someone, I think at that point it is fair to say that you're not likely to be contagious even if it missed the virus. The virus must be at such a low level that it's not likely you are contagious.

Nevertheless, what you saw -- and I think to your -- to your question, you're trying to -- you're trying to thread the needle here with an event like this. Two vulnerable people in an indoor setting, people in the audience non-masked, even if they keep the distance -- that's a risk.

Cleveland Clinic, I know, weighed in on some of the medical protocols and they say all right, let us do the best job we can with what you're asking us to do here. But if it were just up to us alone, the safest thing to do would be to keep you guys remote and not put you in this sort of close contact -- and all the other people in that kind of close contact. COOPER: Yes. I mean, I can't imagine that there will be another

presidential debate with them on the same stage. The only way I could see it is if they did a Zoom debate, essentially, which would also then most likely answer the questions or provide a way for the debate committee to not have the president constantly interrupting and allow each candidate to say their two minutes in the two minutes.

I -- you know, again, up to them. We'll see if even the campaigns would agree to that kind of thing.

COOPER: But if the president --

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: -- does show symptoms, to what extent can he be treated in the White House? I mean, they obviously have medical facilities there, but it's not a hospital.

GUPTA: Yes, no. This is a -- this is a really important question and there's all sorts of different medical criteria by which someone needs to seek medical care. You know, how one's blood oxygenation is.

[05:45:01]

For example, you may remember conservations we had -- again, going back to March-April. There were these situations where people -- they actually felt OK. They felt like they weren't having trouble breathing or anything. But when they got their blood oxygenation check, it was actually quite low.

And in those situations, you actually have to get someone to a hospital to try and provide, perhaps, supplemental oxygen and keep them in a -- in close proximity of an intensive care unit. It doesn't mean they necessarily need to go to one. But the reason you have them in the hospital at that point versus just the White House is you don't -- you don't want to delay anything that might be necessary in terms of medical care.

You may remember this happened with Boris Johnson, Anderson. He's in his mid-50s. He was in the hospital. They got worried enough about him they took him to the intensive care unit. They did not end up having to put him on a breathing machine at that point -- a ventilator.

But that was the concern. It was right on the edge in terms of what we need to do and that might be a situation that arises. Again, we haven't been told if the president even has symptoms.

There is just such a lack of transparency when it comes to these things. We don't even know all this preexisting, sort of, concerns. You know, he had that visit --

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: -- to Walter Reed back in November.

Like, all these things matter now and this is why they matter. It's not just some strange curiosity that we have. It matters because he's the most powerful man in the world. We don't know true -- we don't really know his medical history in detail.

We don't know if we're getting all the information from the White House right now regarding his current status. We don't know when people around him actually tested positive or not. We may not even know when he tested, as you pointed out, positive or not.

So all these questions have relevance now. Beyond just being politically curious, they have medical relevance now.

COOPER: Right. I mean, you and I have talked about this before but it was a while ago, so people have maybe not have tuned in.

The president, to Sean Hannity, said that he and Melania Trump had just -- had just that evening taken -- gotten tested and they were still waiting for their results. So at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday night he was claiming that he didn't know their results yet.

That doesn't -- that just seems impossible given that they knew Hope Hicks was positive at the very latest, Thursday morning, there's no way the president wouldn't have been tested until Thursday night. That just seems hard to imagine.

I've got to get a break in. Sanjay, I appreciate it.

Stay with CNN. Our breaking news, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump testing positive. We'll take a look at how it's impacting the markets, next.

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[05:51:44]

COOPER: And welcome back. We continue to cover the breaking news tonight. President Donald J. Trump and Melania Trump have announced they have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Many in this administration have talked about game-changers throughout the -- this pandemic. They usually use that term when they're talking about a new therapeutic or treatment that they believe can work. They often tout it as being a game-changer.

Certainly, the president and the first lady testing positive for the virus is a game-changer in the history of this virus. It has ramifications on national security, it has ramifications on the election. It has ramifications in a lot of different areas and the ripple effects are just now being felt.

We've seen reaction on world markets. We'll continue to track that throughout the day.

But I just want to go over the timeline a little bit.

The video you're seeing is Wednesday. That's Hope Hicks in the -- in the camel coat with Stephen Miller, with Jared Kushner. They're heading, Wednesday -- they're going on Marine One and they're going to fly -- go over and fly on Air Force One to Minnesota with the president.

From all we know, Hope Hicks -- they're tested in the mornings. There's a report that Hope Hicks was tested Wednesday morning and was negative. We have not confirmed that.

But what we have been told -- and then, that's the president getting on the plane and that's Hope Hicks and Jared Kushner getting on the aircraft Wednesday to fly to the president's event in Minnesota -- a large rally.

On the return trip, according to our Kaitlan Collins, Hope Hicks started to feel symptoms and isolated herself on Air Force One, whatever that means. It's not that big an aircraft.

We don't know exactly when she got tested. There's one report from another network saying it was Wednesday night she got tested and found out she was positive. We have not confirmed that.

Thursday morning, it's known that she -- it was known that she became positive. Some people in the White House knew.

And that's really important because the president went to New Jersey Thursday for a meeting with donors -- for a fundraising trip. Some staff members, according to our Kaitlan Collins, from the White House ended up not going on that trip because they had had contact with Hope Hicks. The question is why the president was allowed to continue to make that trip because he had clearly had contact.

Hard to imagine the president hadn't already been tested. The president claims he was tested Thursday night and was -- when he talked to Sean Hannity on Thursday night at 9:00 was still awaiting test results. That is hard to believe that the president didn't already know. But the president then announced they had tested positive at 1:00 a.m. on Twitter.

So there's a lot of questions remaining about when the president knew, when Hope Hicks was tested, and exactly how many people knew and how they handled that information.

And then, of course, there are all sorts of national security implications and implications on the election.

Will the debates -- two debates still scheduled for presidents -- for the president -- presidential level -- one vice presidential debate -- will those still occur? Can they guarantee the safety of the candidates at any future debates, unclear? Unclear if the Biden campaign would even agree to it. Or if the president will be isolated for 14 days, will he hold any more rallies?

[05:55:12]

So many questions still to be answered. Our coverage continues right now. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching. ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman here along with Erica Hill, who is in for Alisyn.

And we do have major breaking news. President Trump has tested positive for coronavirus -- so has the first lady. We were told a short time ago that they're in isolation in the White House residence.

A letter released by the president's doctor said they are both well at this time, but what does that mean? Is the president exhibiting symptoms? We just don't know. That's one of the open questions this morning exacerbated by the fact that, frankly, this White House can't be counted on for reliable information.

Obviously, we wish the president and first lady a speedy recovery. Transparency, though, of the utmost importance at this time.

This is what we know and, frankly, don't.

Top Trump aide Hope Hicks was diagnosed with coronavirus yesterday morning. We are told she began experiencing symptoms as early as Wednesday afternoon. Hicks has been traveling with the president and a lot of other members of the president's inner circle all week -- to the debate, to his rally in Minnesota. You can see the pictures right there.

Now, to be clear, we don't know whether it was Hicks who infected the president. We do know that a small group of White House officials knew Hicks had tested positive yesterday and the president still traveled to indoor events in New Jersey after.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: As John pointed out, there's still so much we don't know. There are so many questions this morning, including just how many people have come in contact with the president, the first lady, and Hicks over the last few days.

That contact tracing is actually going to involve the highest levels of the U.S. government. We're talking about cabinet members, congressional leaders -- potentially, the president's new Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Not to mention all of those who were at events with these people over the last several days or who were close to them.

Also this morning, how will the West Wing operate? There are national security and political implications here. Who will be allowed into the office? Can those with sensitive jobs work remotely if they're told to isolate?

Joe Biden, meantime, shared a debate stage with the president for 90 minutes on Tuesday. Will any upcoming debates even happen? How does this impact the former vice president and those around him?

We are pushing for answers on all of this. It is new information coming in by the minute. And as John pointed out, we need this morning, transparency. CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with this major breaking news.

Joe, what are you seeing and hearing on the ground there at the White House?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, given the fact that the president and his administration have flaunted the task force rules, especially the rules or guidelines when they come to mask-wearing, this may be a shock to many of our viewers but it is certainly not that much of a surprise.

One thing you can say about this is this is the most serious health threat for a sitting president in decades. And certainly, because the President of the United States is overweight -- he's also 74 years old -- that puts him in a high-risk zone for serious complications from coronavirus.

So here's what we know.

Around 1:00 this morning, the president announced on Twitter that he and the first lady had tested positive for coronavirus and that they were going to isolate.

Then we got the statement that came out from the White House doctor indicating that the president is going to try to carry on with business as usual. Of course, that's going to be very difficult to do under the circumstances.

The president, a couple of hours before he put out his statement on Twitter confirming that he was testing positive for coronavirus -- he also indicated that his aide, Hope Hicks -- longtime aide -- had tested positive as well.

So our reporting is that Hope Hicks started showing what could be called symptoms of COVID-19 on Air Force One on Wednesday, coming back from a campaign rally in Minnesota. And then, apparently, the White House was pretty sure that Hope Hicks had tested positive, at least by Thursday and perhaps, Thursday morning.

And the question, of course, right now is why did the president fly out to New Jersey for his campaign finance -- or I should say fundraising event there? These are unanswerables.

But as it stands now, the other question is who did the president come into contact with, who did Hope Hicks come into contact with, and who did those?