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Three White House Journalists Test Positive for COVID-19; Trump Hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center; Trump Hospitalized; WH: There Won't Be A Transfer Of Power; Trump Now At Walter Reed For Coronavirus Treatment, Will Be Hospitalized For; Sen. Thom Tillis Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Source: WH Officials Have Serious Concerns About Trump's Health. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 2, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us. Our breaking news coverage continues now with AC 360.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, we begin with a picture of the most serious presidential health crisis since the attempt on Ronald Reagan's life nearly four decades ago, President Trump being choppered by Marine One to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. A stunning sight, seeing that helicopter land and wait for the President.

He is being treated for COVID, which as of tonight has killed nearly 209,000 Americans, including so many in the President's age group. Both he and the First Lady are infected, both showing symptoms.

The President tweeted out a video of him shortly before leaving the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I'm going to Walter Reed Hospital. I think I'm doing very well. But we're going to make sure that things work out. The First Lady is doing very well.

So thank you very much. I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you.


COOPER: Shortly before airtime, we learned that three journalists who worked in the White House have also tested positive, that's according to the White House Correspondents Association.

Senior adviser Hope Hicks also tested positive and was showing symptoms on Wednesday night. Utah Senator Mike Lee is also infected along with the President of Notre Dame University. They both attended a White House ceremony last Saturday, announcing the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. At the event, as you can see here, there was no social distancing,

very few masks were being worn. Because that was followed by a string of campaign trips, plus the debate on Tuesday, the list of people the President and First Lady had been in contact with is daunting. Frankly, so too is the number of people who have been largely kept in the dark, including the President's own Taskforce, according to CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who joins us shortly.

The lack of transparency we have seen all throughout this administration, but particularly the last 24 hours makes it harder to report on what is actually going on.

With that in mind, we want to be very careful not to get ahead of the facts that we know without losing sight of the enormous implications of this moment. We'll be joined by the best medical experts around, as well as some of the best thinkers about politics and history, including David Gergen, who saw the Reagan shooting and its aftermath unfold up close from inside the White House.

Jim Acosta starts it off at the White House where the President received initial treatment with an experimental antibody cocktail earlier today. Jim, you were there when the President walked out of the White House and boarded Marine One. I know you have some new reporting on his condition.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. I talked to a Trump campaign adviser just a short while ago who said that this is serious. That the President has been having some trouble breathing, and that he's been very fatigued today, very tired.

And, you know, emphasize that, this is not just a run of the mill trip up to Walter Reed that this is a serious situation. I talked to another source familiar with this situation this evening, who said that there are serious concerns among White House staffers about the President's condition.

Now, we should add to all of that, Anderson, that White House officials continue to maintain that the President is just experiencing mild symptoms from the coronavirus, has a fever and they expect him to pull through just fine, but to have the President of the United States transported via Marine One to Walter Reed where he is going to be staying there for the next few days, according to White House officials, and working out of the White House, according to those White House officials that indicates that this is perhaps more than just a mild case of the coronavirus.

And, you know, the Trump adviser I spoke to earlier this evening emphasized that, that this is a serious situation for the President at this point -- Anderson.

COOPER: You know, Jim, it seems like with the public statements coming out of the White House are just pretty much meaningless. I mean, we were told just a few hours before the President actually left to go to the hospital in a helicopter, he was airlifted to the hospital that the President, you know, would be convalescing for the entirety at the White House, that they could cover all his needs there. Now they say he'll be at Walter Reed for a couple of nights. They have

no idea. I mean, that is just -- that's not a factual statement. I think there's some wishful thinking going on over here, Anderson.

I mean, I would tell you, I talked to a separate White House official this evening, who said that the President's symptoms are more serious, more concerning than those of the First Lady at this point. And that's part of the reason why he had to go to Walter Reed.

And so, you know, we don't want to overstate the situation. But to some extent, Anderson, what we've been hearing from the White House all day long, and White House officials all day long, is sort of, you know, nothing to see here. Please disperse. When, in fact, it sounds as though talking to our sources, that the President's conditions have worsened throughout the day and that this has caused some alarm inside the West Wing, that they were concerned enough that this decision was made to get the President up to Walter Reed.

And I think if he's going to be up there for a few days, you know, we'll have to go back and you said you'll have some folks on it. We'll be talking about this from a historical standpoint. You know, when was the last time we had a President of the United States at Walter Reed for that kind of period of time. That indicates to me that this is serious. This is very, very serious -- Anderson.


COOPER: Now, just the timeline on all of this is so important, and there's a lot we still don't know which again, it just goes to the lack of transparency. But in terms of timeline, from what we know, Hope Hicks started to show symptoms, Wednesday night on board Air Force One with the President. She tested positive.

Do we know if she had a test Wednesday? It's strange to me that she would feel symptoms Wednesday night, isolate herself on Air Force One and not get a test Wednesday night. But from the public reporting that we have or that CNN has had, it is that she found out Thursday, or at least people in the White House learned Thursday that she had tested positive.

Despite that the President went to a fundraiser in New Jersey, some staff members were pulled off that trip. So the White House knew about Hope Hicks. The President knew about Hope Hicks. He went and met with supporters inside, didn't wear a mask and then we find out very early morning that the President and the First Lady have COVID. Do we know when the President was actually tested and shouldn't it have been as soon as Hope Hicks was diagnosed?

ACOSTA: This is as precise as they will get at this point, Anderson, about that timeline, and they're saying it was yesterday when he was tested. And in terms of Hope Hicks, you know, White House officials, we talked to the Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows earlier today would not be more specific when it comes to a timeline.

And you do get the sense, Anderson that they are guarding some of those details out of some concern that perhaps they didn't handle this very well.

I mean, keep in mind, a lot of this may date back to last Saturday when the President announced his pick for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, where as you were mentioning earlier, it appears perhaps that Senator Mike Lee contracted the coronavirus, then, as we now know, the President of Notre Dame, who was also at that event has tested positive with the coronavirus.

And some of these members of the press, Anderson, who have come up with a positive COVID test results, they too were also working last Saturday. And so it seems to indicate that perhaps this was spreading around last Saturday, and that people were getting infected after that.

That means that potentially that they were members of the President's team going into that debate, going to that rally in Minnesota and going up to Bedminster who were potentially carrying this virus.

COOPER: It is possible then that the President was infected during the debate or had been -- was infected by the time of the debate.

ACOSTA: That is possible. And if you look at the way things have progressed over the last 24 hours, it appears his symptoms have gotten worse, and that is consistent with what we hear in terms of the symptoms from the coronavirus that this progressively gets worse over time. It starts off perhaps a bit mild, but then gets worse after that and that appears to be how the President is dealing with this at this point -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much. I want to go to CNN's Jeremy Diamond outside Walter Reed. I know you were there when the Marine One landed. The President was driven into the hospital. What do we know about the treatment he is getting inside?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we don't know a whole lot about exactly what the President is undergoing. We know that earlier in the day that the President received this experimental drug treatment, a promising, but experimental treatment from Regeneron, which is a polyclonal antibody cocktail, and he has been receiving several other medications and vitamins as well.

But we don't know exactly what the President is going to be undergoing during these next few days that he is expected to remain here at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

What we do know, though, Anderson is that something must have changed, something quite significant must have changed in the nearly 18 hours between when the President's physician, Dr. Sean Conley released that first memo around one in the morning, early this morning, saying that the President and the First Lady expected to remain at the White House as they recovered from this virus.

And then when the President arrived around 6:30 this evening here at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to remain not just for a battery of tests for a matter of hours, but to remain here and to be admitted as a patient and remain here for several days. So obviously, something must have changed, especially when you take

into account the fact that this is the optics President who doesn't like to look weak, he doesn't like to project that kind of thing. So it must have taken something, quite a change in his condition for the President to agree to be taken here even as some White House officials are insisting this is merely a precautionary measure.

COOPER: Jeremy Diamond, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now from CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta; also infectious disease specialist and CNN medical analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder, who was on the air with us last night when this all began to break.

Sanjay, so the White House says the President was taken out of an abundance of caution at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts. Given all that we know at this point about his medical condition and frankly, there's a lot as I think it's important to point out that we do not know because the White House has not allowed the doctors to speak and be interviewed by reporters, how concerning is this in terms of the President's health?


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it can be a component of both, an abundance of caution, but also clearly a heightened level of concern. You know, I've been reporting on this, as you know, Anderson, since one o'clock in the morning, hearing all the various sort of statements coming out of the White House, talking to sources.

At first, it was that he is doing well and then it was minor symptoms, and then it was the fever. And then you heard it was more moderate symptoms, and this experimental therapy that he got. These were all sort of signals. I mean, this is, you know, having covered the story for so many months now, this is the way that we get these this type of information in these little breadcrumbs and you have to sort of read between the lines to figure out what was happening.

But it became clear that there was increasing level of concern among the medical team. I also, you know, was talking to another person who's very close at the White House to the Coronavirus Taskforce and they were saying, you know, there was this thinking that if they're going to move the President to the hospital, because they have better access to medical care and various specialists, if that was going to happen, it should happen now, when you can walk out on his own, as you saw, walk to the helicopter.

If he does become sicker and needs like a rapid medivac-type situation, that would obviously be a lot more jarring.

But Anderson, I'm concerned. I mean, what happened today is concerning. You know, there was a rapid deterioration of some sort and it prompted a visit by the President via helicopter to the hospital. He is going to be there for a while. So hopefully, we get more details from some of these doctors at some point. COOPER: And Sanjay, obviously, you know, the President had pushed

hydroxychloroquine for people early on in this pandemic, saying, you know, what have you got to lose? Why won't you try it? He said he had tried it. We don't know if that's actually the case. Clearly, it doesn't seem like he's doing that now. He is doing another experimental treatment. What do we know about that?

GUPTA: Yes, so this is a -- it's a very early data treatment, monoclonal antibodies, basically, you know, a lot of people have heard the term antibodies now. Those are the cells that you develop in your body to help fight the infection. That's what the vaccine hopes to induce.

You can give those antibodies, and that's what this treatment is. You give the antibodies, which helps the body sort of fight the infection using those antibodies. You get the highest dose of this -- this again, very experimental, only 275 patients in one of the trials that we saw that have actually gone through this.

So we don't know much more about it. It's a promising therapy, but it really doesn't have any data behind it. So what I took that as and again, this is in part, talking to people who are some of the sources there, this was another indication of their level of concern.

I was surprised that they decided to do this without having members, you know, infectious disease doctors and members of the Taskforce even weighing in on this. They're all in the dark, as you mentioned about this. But I think it really speaks to the level of concern.

Let's try something and see if we can keep the President at the White House. I don't know if it had any impact at all, or if they had even seen that impact yet. But I think it speaks again, to that level of concern.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Gounder, is there anything we can tell? I mean, the President has had symptoms, apparently all day, a fever throughout the day, according to the reporting. Is there any way to be able to tell at this stage when he may have actually contracted the virus?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Anderson, our best guess, based on what we know, of his exposures, of the testing that's been done is probably sometime between Saturday and Tuesday.

But I think to me, one thing that I've learned over the last 24 hours that's been really concerning is that the daily testing at the White House may not truly be daily testing of everybody. And so --

COOPER: I agree with you. I was stunned to -- just over the last 24 hours -- to understand how porous this alleged, you know, safety system that the White House put in place is. I mean, you know, they talked about e-mail security and physical security, there is not COVID security at the White House.

GOUNDER: Well -- and that's right. And so that actually makes it a lot harder to pinpoint the window in which he might have been infected. If we knew he had a negative test in the morning, positive test the following morning, you could say, okay, well, he was probably incubating the virus just prior to that then has a scale up of the virus levels over the course of that day and turns positive, and then you can sort of count back when he might have been infected based on that.

But because of how porous the White House situation appears to have been, that does throw a wrench into things in terms of contact tracing and figuring out when transmission may have started within the White House.

COOPER: Sanjay, what is extraordinary is Chris Wallace has now said that, you know, everybody was told that they had gotten tested, both candidates had been tested before the debate. Chris Wallace now said that the President got there too late to actually be tested.

And so it was just sort of the honor system. He said that he was negative or the campaign said that he was negative, and therefore the debate went ahead. That's stunning to me.


GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, as Dr. Gounder said there was a -- you know, surprising how porous this was in a situation like that, indoors, obviously, prolonged contact people had. He was far enough away, I think from Vice President Biden, but still an indoor setting. We know that this virus can potentially aerosolize, so even further than six feet, it could potentially spread.

I was really surprised by that as well. You know, we were hearing daily testing. I think, obviously, the biggest concern right now is going forward for the President, but I think it will be important to sort of -- when was his last negative test, then?

He tests positive today, and then has this sort of decline right away? Typically, you know, if you look at the time course of things, we test positive, it's usually a few days after that that you start to develop more significant symptoms.

COOPER: All right. Dr. Gupta and Dr. Gounder. I want to bring in also CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen who served in the Reagan administration during the attempt on President Reagan's life, also senior political correspondent, Abby Phillip, and former Trump Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci.

David, this certainly the most serious health threat to a sitting President since Reagan was shot in 1981. I assume you were in the White House then. What do you make of the fact that the President is now at Walter Reed? What do you look -- what do you want to know that you do not know at this point?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the Reagan White House experience certainly did teach me a lot of things, Anderson, and actually I was designated as a briefer on the afternoon that he was shot to tell people where he was and what had happened.

And what I learned from that is how important it is for the government to be straightforward, and in a democracy to tell people the truth, tell people -- help people understand the full story. Otherwise, what you'll find is that people start making up stories, and then they get -- and they make up the most negative stories they can.

Then you find that enemies overseas look for ways they can take advantage. We've got our eye on the wrong ball at the time. And so he goes in -- if you provide people the truth, then Americans, you know, they can cheer you on. It can bring us together. And if you've got hard truths, it really is better to let people know and not just speculate.

So I think that the people in the press who have been arguing this afternoon, this White House ought to open up, we need -- it is absolutely right, we need a set of doctors, not the Chief of Staff, not some communications person, not some political person, we need real physicians to come and tell the country what is going on.

They don't have to have everything, every little detail, but they have to have the basic truths.

COOPER: And Abby, I mean, not just about the President's condition, which we don't really know anything about, specifically. We don't know -- you know, the President said on Hannity's program on Thursday night, which would have been the nine o'clock hour that he and the First Lady were waiting for the results of tests that they had had, you know, that evening.

If that is true that they weren't tested until Thursday night, and that they were waiting for test results at 9:00 p.m. at night. That's extraordinary, because Hope Hicks and other people in the White House, and assuming the President knew, at least Thursday morning that Hope Hicks was positive.

The idea that the President of the United States would have gone the entire day, seeing other people, flying places without being tested and without wearing a mask, that's incredible.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's a combination of not knowing whether that is actually true, and if it is true, then it would really smack of a lot of irresponsibility not just for the President and his health, but also for any of the people that he came into contact with.

We already know, according to the Chief of Staff, that they knew that Hope Hicks was positive, according to the Chief of Staff when they were taking off from Marine One. So at that point, they already knew that someone who had had close contact with the President --

COOPER: And they've pulled staff members off that trip.

PHILLIP: Exactly. And so to believe President Trump's statements on "Hannity" last night that he would have -- they were waiting for a test that had been administered late in that day would be really extraordinary. Why would they not test him immediately upon finding out that Hope Hicks was positive? All of this really just doubles down on a crisis of credibility that

this White House has been dealing with for years. They have been trying to obfuscate about the President's health on incredibly routine matters. Whether it is, you know, the way that even the White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson as Sanjay probably remembers vividly, would not be straightforward about what the President's medical record said about his cardiovascular health.

I mean, the problems are deep. There's also that trip to Walter Reed that he took under somewhat mysterious circumstances that the White House has still not explained.

There is not a culture of transparency around the President's health, and there's not a culture of truthfulness around any issue with this White House, which is why we're here.


COOPER: And Anthony, you know this better than anyone, you were working there, but when there isn't trust and there isn't transparency and/or history of it, you can go along for a while without that, but when there's a crisis like this, and a really serious issue, and everyone is concerned about the President's health and the First Lady's health and all the others.

That's when transparency -- there's a transparency deficit, and that's when it really hurts.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: But it does come from the President. Listen, I wish him a speedy recovery as I do the First Lady and Hope Hicks, but it does come from the President, so he is the Communications Director in the White House. He is the one that everyone is waiting for, Anderson, in terms of where to give the signal and what to say to the press and how to say it.

He is also setting the culture inside the White House, and so, he is telling people he doesn't like mask wearing, and so guess what? The people didn't wear masks. But what about today, they are standing outside the White House, every single person outside the White House as part of that staff had a mask on.

And so this is sort of a rude awakening. There's a lot of symbolism here, if you want to go back to the election and talk about the election, because his narrative has been, it's a hoax, it's going to go away. It's not that big of a deal.

He was berating the Vice President last Tuesday about mask wearing and gathering crowds, and if the Vice President could gather the same amount of crowds, well, then he would do the same thing. But all of that symbolically is just isn't true.

And so what happened is that the President's reality distortion field intersected with scientific reality, and now we have this very sad outcome, not only for him, but for his family members and for staff.

And so it's a symbolism that I think will haunt him as we go into the final days of the election.

COOPER: Sanjay, the fact that the President, you know, he delivered a video message, I think it was for the Al Smith Dinner on Thursday night, saying that -- I wrote it down -- that basically, it was that, you know, the end is in sight on the pandemic. We have turned a corner. It was one of those phrases that he has commonly used.

The fact that the President delivered a video message and was able to walk onto and off of Marine One. That was meant as a signal to the country that he was okay. Medically, that's also a good sign the fact that he at least was able to walk on his own.

GUPTA: Yes, I think so. I mean, it was a -- it was very -- yes, he is walking on his own. He is wearing a mask, which is obviously critical, because he does have the virus in a system. But it was a short little talk that he gave before. You know, it's just -- it's very hard to read too much into that.

I don't --

COOPER: Sanjay, I'm sorry. I just want to give you an update. I just -- we just learned, Senator Thom Tillis has also now tested positive. He too attended the Rose Garden event on Saturday. Mike Lee was in attendance there, a number of others who have already tested positive. We certainly wish him well.

So Sanjay, I mean, another one testing positive.

GUPTA: Yes. So, I mean, you know, you're starting to get a sense of the fact that that event, even though it was outside may have been a significant spreading event. We don't know, because contact tracing is actually challenging to do, Anderson.

You and I have talked about this. You get 40,000 people a day roughly being infected. It's a lot of contact tracing.

But here, you know, there's obviously the contact tracing that is underway and it is starting to look more and more like that may have been a significant source of spread, so we will get more data as things come in.

But also keep in mind, there's a there's a time lag, right? There's lots of people who may not actually test positive; if they test positive at all, for up to two weeks. So if you go through a couple days, you think --

COOPER: So Sanjay, if it is that Saturday event, then can one -- I mean, if in fact, that is the case that that was an event where a number of people got positive, and it spread among a number of people. If the President picked it up then, by the time the debate, would he have -- I mean, how long does it take to start to be able to detect the virus after you come in contact with it and start to spread it?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean -- and I don't know if we have this timeline we showed. We put this together earlier, but the answer is, obviously, it is variable person to person, but you know, typically four to five days.

You get the exposure, typically, you know, four to five days before you would actually test positive. As you know, it can be as long as a couple of weeks, but on average, that timeframe.


GUPTA: The thing to also keep in mind, Anderson, is that if someone has symptoms, the question is when are they most contagious? And what they have found is that people who have symptoms it's usually just before they develop symptoms.

So for example, you develop symptoms today for the President or yesterday, I guess, I'm confused on the days, but whatever day, then it would be the two to three days before that where he was likely most contagious, most likely spreading it. The same thing with Hope Hicks, a couple or three days backwards from that would be when they were the most contagious.

COOPER: Wow. I mean, it's just extraordinary again and the fact that Chris Wallace saying they actually didn't get a test before the debate at the Debate Hall, we don't know when the President's last actual test was prior to the testing positive.

We're going to pick this up after a short break. We're going to hear more from everyone. Joining us as well, what one reporter saw up close at the White House today as staffers, that small self-contained communities struggled to cope with what was happening.

Later, author and columnist, Tom Friedman on how he thinks this will affect an already divided country.


COOPER: Walter Reed Medical Center tonight, the President being treated there for COVID as CNN's Jim Acosta reported at the top of the program. A Trump adviser told him quote, "This is serious," that the President was having some trouble breathing throughout the day.

In just the last few minutes, we learned that Senator Thom Tillis has also now tested positive after attending that Rose Garden event on Saturday. It makes him, Senator Mike Lee, the President and First Lady, the President of Notre Dame all at the event.

Tillis in his statement said that he had tested negative Saturday, unclear if that was Saturday morning prior to that event. And as we've been discussing all day, there doesn't seem to be the level of COVID security at the White House specifically testing that we've been led to expect. We'll get back to Sanjay and the rest of the group.

But first, I want to talk to Peter Nicholas. He's a staff writer at "The Atlantic" and was at the White House today. Peter, I read the article. I was up -- I was on the air from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. And I read your article about going to the to -- in "The Atlantic" this summer, I think was in August you wrote it about how -- you said there, quote, "Vibe was shockingly lax." It really stunned me. You went back there today. Describe what you


PETER NICHOLAS, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I went back there today and I didn't see much of an improvement, frankly, Anderson.

When I was there in August. There were no temperature checks that were done. Nobody asked whether I had COVID symptoms when asked about my health, and it was much the same today. This is hours after the President tested positive for the virus and again, there was no digital thermometer placed on my forehead. Nobody asked if I was coughing or if I had fever.


And this is different actually, then that it was in May. In May, when I was at the White House, those checks were done as questions were asked. And it seems like things are moving in the wrong direction, things are getting more locks, not more strict. Even the number just going up. And the President, as we learned, sadly, was under great risk.

COOPER: It's harder to get into an equinox. Now it sounds like than it is to get into the White House. I mean, they take your temperature at least and you know, as have you asked quick answer questions.

NICHOLAS: Well the White House is the most secure building one of the most secure buildings on the planet. It's a fortress, and they check for weapons, diligently for weapons, but they don't check its build a pandemic, and they're really not doing the cert -- those questions and the searches necessary to determine whether you're sick or you're well. For that matter, I was in some of the areas of the White House, the West Wing that are accessible to the press. I had a mask on, but there was no mask police there. I mean, I could have taken my mask off. I could have had a coughing spasm. I mean, and you know, there was nobody there to stop that from happening.

What I'm saying is the President needs to be protected. And, you know, he has, so he has Secret Service to protect them. But they're looking at physical threats that come from weapons and not biological threats and pathogens that are equally grave.

COOPER: Well, I mean, that's, and I mean that, you know, Anthony Scaramucci said this earlier, it comes from the top the President, you know, attacked Hillary Clinton for her lack of e-mail security, or carelessness with, you know, personal e-mail systems. I mean, COVID security, can -- you know, devastate I mean, it can kill people. It's just as much a part of security as other aspects in the White House.

NICHOLAS: Well, I think you make a good point. And the point is, it does come from the top. The President obviously has issues with masks. Masks are a visual reminder that the response to the pandemic has not gone well. And we still need to wear masks, and he doesn't necessarily like them or want to see them. He's mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask. He's very seldom verse barely worn a mask in public. And I think that that has sent a signal and a message to people lower down the White House chain, and they're not going to wear masks in his presence if they don't have to. And that is a recipe for spreading a very dangerous virus.

COOPER: Peter Nicholas, I appreciate it. And thank you for your writing. You're reporting.

Back now, David Gergen, Abby Phillip, Anthony Scaramucci, Sanjay Gupta, Celine Gounder.

Anthony, I mean, I'm just stunned at -- I mean, again, this, I've learned this, like Dr. Gounder were saying earlier, just over the last 24 hours, I just assumed naively that they would be on top of this at the White House. But I mean, it seems like from getting in the gate to, you know, the office culture inside it just a, it's completely unsecure?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FMR WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: OK, but look at how the Republican Congress acts or the Republican senate acts around the President. And so he has this amazing control over these people. It's like literally being the bully at the middle school lunch table. Everybody wants to sit with the bully, and the bully is giving you rules that are going to go against your self interest, but you're going to abide to them anyway. And so, that's basically what happened, you know, you're going to come to a situation where the West Wing, and the members of Congress are going to have more COVID-19 than the entire country of New Zealand, due to this laxity.

And so, it's sad for me because a lot of these people are my friends. You know, Hope is my friend, I wish her well, I want her to get better. But it's also sad for the country because we put the country now in this dilemma where we've politicized the science, politicize the masks, politicize the health and well-being of the people in the country. And so, I'm hoping that this will be a wake up call for the President and his staff and they will start to speak the way Anthony Fauci speaks about it, or the way Dr. Gupta speaks about the virus in terms of the seriousness of it.

COOPER: Abby, Phillip, there's no indication though that I mean, Mark Meadows was talking to reporters without a mask today. I mean, I saw on television, it seems like a lot of them are still walking around without mask even today.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: At least earlier in the day that it certainly seemed that many White House officials there were at least three that we saw with photographic evidence, standing outside talking to reporters, doing various things with no mask on. And Meadows even suggested that he didn't have to wear a mask because he'd been tested and it was negative and that they were standing outside more than six feet apart.

But, you know, part of it is the symbolism, but part of it is also knowing that even if you test negative in one moment, it doesn't necessarily mean that you are negative forever and I think that this is the problem.

[20:35:09] And we saw when the President took off from Marine One later this afternoon, the extraordinary sight of all of these White House officials, I can't tell you that I've seen that many White House officials inside or outside wearing masks publicly, individual by individual. It seems that something has changed. They're recognizing the seriousness of it. The question is, does this carry forward? I have a lot of questions about the people who were at the debate, who were around Hope Hicks, and who are going out and about their lives carrying on their lives without quarantining. What are they going to do? Don Jr., the president's son, he has campaign events scheduled early next week, shouldn't these people be quarantining themselves. How the campaign and this White House answer (ph) this moment forward will actually tell us how seriously they're taking this, because it's not just wearing a mask, you got to social distance. And you also have to quarantine yourself or sequester yourself from other people. If there's a chance that you could have been exposed to the virus.

COOPER: I mean, the fact that the idea that the President of United States could have been COVID positive at that debate standing on the stage with Vice President Biden with his family members, none of the, you know, refusing to wear masks, sitting in the audience is just extraordinary.

Dr. Gounder, there's new reporting from White House officials a source telling reporters that that Trump's condition is not deteriorating, and that there's no reason for public to be alarmed. That certainly sounds like good news. But it would mean a whole heck of a lot more if an actual doctor stood before cameras and took questions and explain what actually is going on. Some anonymous official, you know, putting out a counter leak that oh, everything's fine is not deteriorating. When you -- yes, I don't even know what to ask. I mean, it just, yes --

CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, to me, that's not meaningful information at all. I'd like to have a name and a face behind the information, I'd like to see perhaps something in writing, some lab reports, some x rays, that sort of information. And I would really like to know, what was his oxygen saturation at the time he left for the hospital? And what was the reason for him to be hospitalized at Walter Reed.

Right now we're making educated guesses based on reasons why patients are typically hospitalized, it's usually because they have a low oxygen saturation level. With somebody like the President, maybe you would hospitalized before that out of an abundance of caution. But based on what we know about his personality, he's not somebody who would want to show weakness, who would likely want to take such cautious measures in the absence of a real indication. So, that would imply that he truly needs to be in the hospital.


GOUNDER: And so, I really think we need more objective data to better understand the situation.

COOPER: Yes, I got to get a break. And I appreciate all you've been with us. Thank you.

Up next columnist and author Tom Friedman, on how President Trump's diagnosis and hospitalization might impact this divided nation.



COOPER: There's more of a breaking news. White House officials telling CNN that the President's condition has not deteriorated. This is another attendee that Rose Garden ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been diagnosed with coronavirus. North Carolina Senator Tom Tillis. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was on the program last week. Before today's dramatic developments. He told me he thought the country was on the verge of a quote, six alarm fire because the divisions caused by President Trump and the threat of possible violence spurred by his rhetoric and his refusal to accept a peaceful transition or commit to a peaceful trends -- accepting a peaceful transition.

He's the author of the book, thank you for being late and optimist guide for thriving in the age of accelerations. And he joins me now. So Tom, I, since we talked I mean, I you know, that seems like a year ago. What do you make of what is going on?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. You know, what did Lenin say, you know, sometimes you go a whole decade and nothing happens. And then sometimes a decade happens in a week and that what we've been through. You know, Anderson, I want to begin like everyone else. I really hope the President and his wife recover, hope all these people who have caught it recover and become safe and healthy again, not only for their sake, but for the sake of the country. We cannot afford more instability and disorder right now, especially around the presidency.

But, what I also wish as --I wish them wisdom, and not just health, I wish that they will sit back and reflect on what they've been doing. You know, there was a cliff out there Anderson and it was labeled coronavirus. And the President was actually speeding toward that cliff. There was a fog. But we knew the cliff was out there a little bit. And he was speeding for it and he was giving other people permission to speed toward that cliff. And he was mocking people like Joe Biden, who weren't taking precautions against going over that cliff. So what happened to the President? Was it an act of bad luck, Anderson? It was a product of recklessness on his part, and on the part of Mark Meadows, his chief of staff and so many other people.

And so most of all, I so hope is when he gets better, comes out and reflects on what he did the way John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame did, you know, Notre Dame students circulated a petition calling for their president's removal, because he attended that White House meeting with Judge Barrett last Saturday without a mask while he's telling Notre Dame students, they can't go anywhere on campus without a mask -- you know, and not wearing a mask. And, you know, that is such abdication of leadership. And you know, we're at a time Anderson, where people are so vulnerable. They're so vulnerable. So, and we're at a time we're in the middle of a pandemic. That is very confusing. So people really look to leaders now more than ever, they look to teachers and to doctors and to politicians. And leadership matters so much.

So my friend Dov Seidman, wrote a column about leadership. And he made a point that I'm really thinking about tonight. He said, when this is over this crisis, who will we look back on, who will we feel provided great leadership? Ad the leaders who put more trust into the world than they eroded it during this crisis, and the leader should put more truth into the world than they muddy during this crisis. And that's what's that's the failure here.


This -- the President is in the hospital now. And again we need to distinguish I pray that he gets well for his sake the family and the country, but we cannot shirk from the fact that he's in the hospital now, because of a real failure of leadership in the middle of this pandemic.

COOPER: And I echo your sentiments of on wanting him to recover quickly, for the sake of all of us, as well as for his family and First Lady as well and all the others. But today, I couldn't help but think about all the other 205,000 plus people who in this country who have now died, who faced what the President is facing right now. And, you know, heard the President say, you know, hydroxychloroquine, why not go for it? What do you got to lose? Why not use that? The President is now in the position they were in. He's apparently not using hydroxychloroquine. He's, he has access to a very experimental, albeit, allegedly promising thing, and let's hope it is as promising as they think it may be. But there's a whole lot of other people who, while they were going through this moment, which was a somber and, you know, serious life and death moment, he was exhorting them to try experiment, you know, try things that there was no evidence that they worked.

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, I want to go back to this point, Anderson, just to pick up on what you said that, I saw hope that he would come out of this, and reflect and say, you know, what, I just had gold plated medical treatment at Walter Reed, you know, I mean, and thank God, he's getting it, and any president should get it. But while I was getting that, my administration's in the Supreme Court trying to eliminate Obamacare, for millions of Americans who will not have access, all they have is maybe this kind of bronze plated treatment, and maybe facing this kind of crises. I hope you'll reflect on that. I hope that reflect on the fact that he pitted mask against jobs. He pitted mask against school, he pitted mask against football. And it was number never mask or jobs, mask or school. It was mask for jobs, mask for school. That by wearing a mask, you could actually do these things because it's been proven all over the world.

I was just looking at the statistics before I came on. In the last two weeks. There have been 14 cases of coronavirus, tested in Taiwan. There probably 14 people in the White House today who have it. And that's because Taiwan has this mask policy. So, you know, it's -- we don't wear mask, Anderson just to protect ourselves. We wear mask to protect our neighbors. We wear a mask to protect our co-workers. We wear mask to protect our secret service. We were mask to protect our police. We wear mask to protect our fellow Americans. We don't just wear them for ourselves.

I mean, you look at that picture. And I promise you, Anderson, it's going to be an iconic picture of the entire Trump clan at that debate, sitting around unmasked what possibly their father was actually carrying the coronavirus. It is such a profound act, not just a recklessness, but of such disrespect to their fellow Americans. So I pray he gets well, because nothing actually could heal the country more than if President Trump comes out of this and says, I want to reflect like the president of Notre Dame reflected.


FRIEDMAN: I want to say I'm sorry, I was on the wrong track. I was not leading the right way. And I'm going to try to win this election now. Not by dividing us, but by uniting us. Not on fake news, but on science.

COOPER: Yes. Tom Friedman, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Want to quickly drill down deeper on the breaking news that two senators have now tested positive for COVID and that both Mike Lee and now Tom Tillis are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The question, how will this affect confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now by phone. Phil, what are you learning?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So obviously, it's a very fluid situation right now. Anderson. I think the big question, as you noted is what does this have to do? Obviously, first question is about the health of the senators themselves. Both said they're not feeling symptoms right now and that they feel well, but both obviously have moved into quarantine. Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee has planned to hold the first four days of hearings on October 12th. Obviously, given the fact it's October 2, at least one of the senators possibly both would not be back or out of their quarantine by that time. So the question becomes on a Committee where the split is 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats, what actually happens next?

Now, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said earlier today, one that he had tested negative for coronavirus, but that he planned to move forward with the hearings. This was before Tom Tillis with North Carolina senator who just announced that he was positive came out and said that, but Graham said he planned to move forward and that there's a possibility of virtual hearing.


There's some question right now, given how the Judiciary Committee works, given how the nominations process works, whether or not that is possible. Democrats say it isn't and it shouldn't. And because of what's going on right now, particularly as members try and get their heads around the full scope of the potential outbreak here on Capitol Hill, as to whether or not Democrats are pushing to have things delayed until everything is understood. I will tell you right now, Anderson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear full steam ahead on the confirmation process, but obviously a lot to figure out right now as more positive seem to be popping up by the hour.

COOPER: Yes. The video we were showing earlier was Mike Lee at that event on Saturday, hugging people. Well, hugging multiple people, tested positive.

Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.

Coming up, I'll talk with a presidential story and to share his thoughts and where the nation is at this moment.


COOPER: As far as Trump gets ready to spend the night at Walter Reed Hospital. It's important to pause and put into context the kind of history we're witnessing tonight. As we mentioned at the top of the program is the most serious presidential health crisis since President Reagan was shot in 1981. Tonight, President Obama wish both the President and the First Lady a speedy recovery.

Perspective now from presidential historian Tim Naftali and longtime journalist Steve Coll, who wrote -- who's written a fascinating article for The New Yorker about the last time our President was caught up in a pandemic, which was President Woodrow Wilson back in 1919.

Steve, I read the article today I just thought it was just so -- I mean, I had no idea, you know, about Wilson. We heard a bit from David Gergen earlier on the parallels to President Reagan. Let's talk about Woodrow Wilson, he contracted the Spam -- the so-called Spanish Flu. You wrote, quote, he became ill at a decisive moment making the virus and insidious actor in one of the 20th century's most consequential episodes of great power diplomacy. He was in -- it was in the midst of negotiation with British leader and French -- the leader of France, about what the post-war Europe would look like.

STEVE COLL, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Yes, it was he was in Paris in 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War, negotiating the outcome of the war, the terms that would be imposed upon defeated Germany, but also the future of the empires of France and Britain and Germany. And the aspiration of many nations at that time to become independent.


And so it was quite a fraught negotiation and went on for months. And in the middle of it and April, Wilson became ill. Best evidence now is that he contracted the virus that was often called the Spanish Flu. And that it really affected his ability to negotiate and the actually the outcome of the negotiations. Essentially, Wilson became very incapacitated, and he capitulated on a lot of terms that he had previously been insistent -- insisting upon. And as a result, quite harsh terms were imposed upon Germany. COOPER: Which they came back -- which then ultimately led to the rise of Hitler, and to obviously then World War II. I mean, it's fascinating how you pinpoint sort of the consequence of this illness.

And, Tim, when you look also at the parallels with Wilson, in Steve's article, it talks about how he, he basically his sole focus was World War I, if he really refused and punish people who discussed or focused on the influenza outbreak, which was, you know, decimating, you know, hundreds of -- killing hundreds of thousands people in the United States.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Indeed, Anderson. When we talk about leadership, or the lack of leadership, in the 1918-1919 pandemic, we rarely talk about President Wilson, he seems to have been AWOL. There was no effort at presidential leadership, in part, as Steve mentioned, is because the President was quite sick in the spring. And as of October 1919, he'd be completely incapacitated. So, but even between the spring and the fall of 1919, Wilson is so focused on getting the United States to enter the League of Nations, to get the Senate to support that treaty, that he's not focused on the huge domestic crisis that that is the pandemic.

COOPER: Steve, the lack of transparency, obviously, you know, it's been an issue in this White House, really, from day one, obviously and also the lack of truth, often. In a time like this, it seems particularly important.

COLL: Well, I'm glad you mentioned the word transparency, because I was thinking about how in Wilson's time, nobody knew at the time, there was some medical uncertainty, what he was suffering from, but he managed to keep his incapacity after he suffered a stroke, largely out of the public eye. And of course, you know, Tim can provide example, after example, in the 20th century before the television and never mind the radical era of social media that we're in now, of presidents who are able to disguise or downplay their illnesses while they were in office, sometimes for extended periods.

What's so fascinating now is you have a president who on the one hand, is not at all transparent, mis -- you know, repeatedly misleads the public about important aspects of the pandemic we've all been suffering through. And at the same time, he himself is such an active participant in social media, that when he went off social media for a few hours today, everyone thought that was quite significant. So, you know, here we are talking about his illness within less than 24 hours after it became apparent to him at least. And, you know, that's so different than it was a century ago, when there was a much clubbier protective environment, including among the press, around presidents who were stricken in various ways.

COOPER: Tim, many White Houses in the recent history have tried to hide or play down any illnesses or maladies the President may have. But we have heard from doctors treating presidents in the past, we haven't really heard, certainly not in the last 24 hours from the doctors on this.

NAFTALI: One of the big differences this time is we had a baseline of truth with regard to previous modern chiefs, chief executives. I mean, after all, we never knew the full story of John F. Kennedy's chronic illnesses while he was president. But after Kennedy, the level of truth as opposed to misinformation from presidential doctors has increased with time. The problem here is that this is a fraught moment. And a fraught moment like this is a moment when transparency is vital. It's not just vital for reasons. It's vital for the markets, and it's vital for the way in which the world interacts with us.

Since there is no baseline of truth about the President's health before this period, it is harder for people to believe what they're learning now. So it's time for this White House to really, really share information.


COOPER: Tim Naftali, Steve Coll, I appreciate. I'm sorry, I got to run.

A programming note for tomorrow, I'll be anchoring special Saturday edition from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night.

The news continues right now Chris in "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.