ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
President of the United States is spending second night at Walter Reed Medical Center. While we would normally start the broadcast telling you exactly what we know about his condition, there is so little we actually know, it's perhaps more telling to let you know what we don't know. We don't know exactly why the president was taken to Walter Reed.
We know he had a fever but his personal doctor would not how bad it was. We've learned he required supplemental oxygen to help him breathe yesterday, we didn't learn that through his doctor, who went out of his way to hide that fact. We don't know when the president is actually tested positive.
He told Sean Hannity Thursday night at 9:00 P.M. that he and Melania Trump had been tested and were still waiting for results. He announced his positive result at 1:00 A.M. Friday morning on Twitter. We do not know if this is true.
It seems highly unlikely any responsible White House would allow the president to go to campaign events after having close contact with Hope Hicks, who they knew was infected at least by Thursday morning. We don't know when the president got infected, when he first got symptoms. We don't even know when his last negative test was. Nobody is saying.
We don't know if there's been damage to his lungs. The president's doctor was evasive on that topic today. We do know that, all day, there has been bizarrely conflicting messages from the people closest to the president of the United States. We saw his doctor give a confusing and, at times, clearly evasive briefing. The doctor's first briefing, later, his doctor said he twice had misspoken about the timeline of the president's illness.
Then moments after that very briefing, a source identified by The New York Times and the Associated Press is that man, Mark Meadows, the president's own chief of staff, told reporters that the next 48 hours will be critical to the president's recovery and his vitals over the last 24 hours were, and I'm quoting, according from The New York Time and Associated Press, the chief of staff, Mark Meadow, saying very concerning. His vitals have been very concerning over the last 24 hours.
After being identified by The New York Times and the Associated Press as that source, he then made an on the record statement that was far more upbeat. And just a short time ago, the president posted this video on Twitter. It runs for minutes. Here it is.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to begin by thanking all of the incredible medical professionals, the doctors, the nurses, everybody at Walter Reed Medical Center. I think it's the finest in the world for the incredible job they have been doing.
I came here, I wasn't feeling so well. I feel much better now. We're working hard to get me all the way back. I have to be back because we still have to make America great again. We've done an awfully good job of that. But we still have steps to go and we have to finish that job, and I'll be back. I think I'll be back soon.
And I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started and the way we've been doing and kind of numbers that we've been doing. We've been so proud of it. But this was something that happened and it's happened to millions of people all over the world, and I'm fighting for them, not just in the U.S., I'm fighting for them all over the world. We're going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it. And we're going to beat it soundly.
So many things have happened, if you look at the therapeutics, which I'm taking right now, some of them, and others are coming out soon that are looking like, frankly, they're miracles. If you want to know the truth, they're miracles. People criticize me when I say that. But we have things happening that look like they're miracles coming down from God.
So I just want to tell you that I'm starting to feel good. You don't know, over the next period of a few days, I guess that's the real test. So we'll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.
I just want to be so thankful for all of the support I've seen, whether it's on television or reading about it. I, most of all, appreciate what's been said by the American people, by almost a bipartisan consensus of American people. It's a beautiful thing to see. And I very much appreciate it and I won't forget it. I promise you that.
I also want to thank the leaders of the world for their condolences, and their -- they know what we're going through. They know what, as your leader, what I have to go through, but I had no choice because I just didn't want to stay in the White House. I was given that alternative, stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don't ever leave, don't even go to the Oval Office.
[20:05:04] Just stay upstairs and enjoy it. Don't see people, don't talk to people and just be done with it. And I can't do that. I had to be out front and this is America.
This is the United States. This is the greatest country in the world. This is the most powerful country in the world. I can't be locked up in the room upstairs and totally safe and just say, hey, whatever happens, happens. I can't do that. We have to confront problems. As a leader, you have to confront problems. There's never been a great leader that would have done that. So that's where it is.
I'm doing well. I want to thank everybody. Our first lady is doing very well. Melania asked me to say something as to the respect that she has for our country, the love she has for our country and we're both doing well. Melania is really handling it very nicely.
As you've probably read, she's slightly younger than me, just a little tiny bit. And, therefore, just we know the disease, we know the situation with age versus younger people, and Melania is handling it, statistically, like it's supposed to be handled. And that makes me very happy and it makes the country very happy. But I'm also doing well and I think we're going to have a very good result. But, again, over the next few days, we're going to probably know for sure.
So I just want to thank everybody out there, everybody, all over the world, specifically, the United States, the outpouring of love has been incredible. I will never forget. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We don't know what time that was recorded or exactly when today, assuming that was today.
CNN's John Harwood joins us now from Walter Reed. So we just saw the president's remarks. It's certainly been a confusing day, to say the least, right after this press conference at Walter Reed today, where really, the only doctor to try to give -- allowed to give any really specific details or answer questions was the president's physician, and he was certainly evasive.
But then the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, contradicted the doctors, according to The New York Times and the Associated Press, doing it as source and not named and then it was just later revealed by The Times and the A.P., that's who it was, saying the next 48 hours are going to be critical. What more can you tell us about that?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Sean Conley's briefing, that's the president's White House doctor, was so comically evasive, he wouldn't talk about how high the president's fever was, whether he'd gotten supplemental oxygen. We since confirmed that he did. Whether or not he had experienced lung damage, they said, we're monitoring that. They said -- the reporter said, what have you found? Well, I'm not going to get into those details.
I think the White House felt plainly that they had to come out and give some believable account of why the president had gone to Walter Reed on Friday, and so you had that background statement about how concerning the vitals were yesterday, about how the next 48 hours were critical.
And I got to say, Anderson, in that video from the president, he provided some candor. He said -- you could tell the uncertainty in his voice where he said I'm starting to feel good. But we've got to watch over the next couple of days and that's when we'll know for sure. I thought that was a more realistic on the record note of candor from the president himself that we got from the doctor.
COOPER: Can you just explain how the White House doctor had to clarify the timeline of the president's diagnosis, because it's really critical? And the fact we still do not know when the president's last negative COVID test was, when did he actually test positive and we simply don't know, really, the timeline. Explain how the doctor had to clarify?
HARWOOD: Well, Anderson, first of all, he declined to say when the last negative test for the president was and we know that's important to try to figure out when the president may have acquired the virus and where he is in the course of his disease. But more significantly, he really confused the timeline of when the president was actually diagnosed with having COVID and he did it with a suggestion, initially, that put the timeline of his diagnosis back to Wednesday. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SEAN CONLEY, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: Just 72 hours of his diagnosis now, the first week of COVID, and in particular day seven to ten of the most critical in determining the likely course of this illness.
REPORTER: When was the positive diagnosis made? You said 75 hours, that would put it at Wednesday.
CONLEY: Yes. So Thursday afternoon following the news of a close contact is when we repeated testing and given kind of clinical indications that a little bit more concern.
And that's when that -- late that night, we got the PCR confirmation that he was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARWOOD: So, what he said there was that they gotten confirmation of the president's diagnosis on Thursday night, but the original 72 hours would have put it back to Wednesday.
Now, subsequently, after people observed that, well, if he was diagnosed Wednesday, then he knowingly, knowing that he had the coronavirus, went to the fundraiser at Bedminster and exposed a lot of people to potential infection. They said, well, what Conley said was, when I said 72 hours, what I really meant to say was the third day of the situation that we're in, the first day being Thursday, that is Thursday evening, and second day, Friday, and the third day today.
But he certainly created a whole lot of questions about exactly when the president may have been infected and when he may have been confirmed to have been infected by the test.
COOPER: Yes. John Harwood, stay with us. I want to bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also Dr. David Axelrod, CNN Senior Political Commentator and former Top Adviser of President Obama.
Sanjay, this timeline, you and I have been talking about this since the middle of the night, Thursday overnight to Friday morning. And the doctor, Dr. Conley, as John just pointed out, really has now only just made it even more confusing.
The president said to Sean Hannity he was tested Thursday late in the day and that at 9:00 P.M., they were still waiting for their results. The White House knew Hope Hicks was positive Thursday morning. We know that. And we know people were pulled off the trip to New Jersey with the president because of fears they had been around Hope Hicks, as the president had.
Either the White House did not choose to test the president of the United States as soon as they found out Hope Hicks who had been very close with last several days, had tested positive, which seems almost criminally negligent and completely reckless or he was tested and they allowed him to go.
Dr. Conley said that Thursday afternoon is when we repeated testing. I don't know why he said repeated testing, it indicates that there was another test, I guess, earlier, but we don't know when that might have been, and he said PCR confirmation. How long would it take to get PCR confirmation of a COVID test for the president of the United States?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sorry can you hear me?
COOPER: We got you now.
GUPTA: We know that the system that they use in the White House is the PCR Abbott rapid test. So that's a machine that can actually do that sort of PCR test within 15 minutes. Now, you know, depending how much machines you have, if you have four people, it could take an hour, but for the president, they could get a result fairly quickly.
So I wasn't quite sure by that time. I knew that, clearly, it doesn't track one with the other. And I agree with you, Anderson, it would seem very, very unlikely that they wouldn't immediately test once they know that he's had a close contact, the president, with someone who is diagnosed with COVID.
One thing I just want to point out that video John was showing again of Dr. Conley giving the original statement and he said it's been 72 hours since the diagnosis, when he's saying that, and Dr. Jonathan Reiner pointed this out to me earlier, who has briefed the press before when he was taking care of Dick Cheney -- Vice President Cheney, that was a prepared statement that he was reading, okay? He was reading a prepared statement that said 72 hours since the diagnosis.
He wasn't freelancing there, and typically, again, as Dr. Reiner points out, when those statements are prepared, they are vetted. I mean, you know, the language is carefully prepared. And 72 hours is what they said.
And I watched the press conference carefully. He was even asked about it once and until that video were sort to said, well, the confirmatory test was Thursday. It really did sound like what he meant to say and what he said and what the prepared statement read was that the president was diagnosed on Wednesday, 72 hours ago.
So, you know, we may never know the truth here, but I think that that was what the prepared statement was intended to convey.
COOPER: I mean, it's entirely possible based on his statement of 72 hours and based on his statement saying, we repeated testing Thursday afternoon that the president was, in fact, tested Wednesday night when Hope Hicks had already shown symptoms, she was being isolated on Air Force One, got off separately. And they repeated a test Thursday afternoon. I mean, medically, that is possible, correct?
GUPTA: Yes, it is possible. I mean, I guess the question is, if the first test showed that it was positive, that he was -- in fact, had the coronavirus, which, again, is what that statement, that the Dr. Conley read really does -- did convey, then, you know, obviously, he should have been isolated at that point.
I mean, you can get a confirmatory test, I mean -- but at that point, he should have been isolated because there was a positive test, if they treat that test as positive, unless there's some really specific reason why you believe that it was a false positive, which is not likely.
So, again, Anderson, it doesn't make sense. It doesn't track. I just wanted to point that the doctor was reading a prepared statement that I'm sure was vetted and pored over a few times before he read it. And that it feel like that they were sort of playing catch-up. I didn't mean 72 hours, I meant three days, that's Thursday, Friday, Saturday. But which is it?
I mean, you know, I speak to patients who are giving -- you're used to speaking with a different sort of specificity when you're talking to families, trying to describe their loved ones care, and that sort of what the -- what Dr. Conley was doing today on behalf of the president to the nation. There was specific language there that was prepared.
COOPER: David, obviously, this White House isn't known for transparency. I'm wondering what you make on what we have seen today from the doctors, from the source who according to The New York Times and the Associated Press who was Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, first of all, let me say, I agree with Sanjay having worked in the White House. A statement like that, especially given the sensitivity of this, would not have gone out without someone reviewing it from the White House other than the doctor. So it is really peculiar that that number was in there and nobody caught it.
COOPER: And, by the way, Mark Meadows was standing right there at the press conference just off camera, and, in fact, afterward I think went up, you know, shakes hand with the doctor.
AXELROD: So let me get myself in a hot water here and surmise because there is a murkiness that is so hard to explain. Why not be straight forward and transparent about all of this?
You know, on Tuesday night, the president stood on the stage and ridiculed Joe Biden for wearing a mask. He went to the rally on Wednesday night. By the way, he was reported to have fallen asleep on the plane coming back from the rally, which everyone noted was unusual for him, and the doctor travels with the president, so they would have noticed that as well.
But be that as it may, this president is invested in telling the country that we're through this, that we're getting through this, we're at the end of this, that we're about to, you know, round the bend on this. And I think he understood that how dramatic it would be if he had to report that he had the coronavirus. And perhaps they were waiting to see if he presented with symptoms before they -- maybe they thought that they never had to reveal that he had the coronavirus.
I don't know if that's true and, I mean, Twitter may be lighting up right now with people who are outraged by this suggestion. But, frankly, it is not beyond the pale that they would -- that this White House would do that. And -- but there has to be an explanation for why they have been so furtive about all of this.
COOPER: But, I mean, David, you, you know, I think worked in the White House. Does it make -- I mean, obviously, there's a push and pull of not wanting to let on how badly the president may be doing or the details of the president's physical condition, but is there any reason to not let people know when he tested negative, when he tested positive, exactly the details?
AXELROD: Well, if he tested -- if he tested positive before Thursday, there's plenty of reason, because he went to an event on Thursday that he obviously shouldn't have gone to. And I think that's the issue here.
COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, John Harwood, David Axelrod, thanks. We're going to see some of you again shortly.
Coming up next, more on when the president may have caught this when he knew he had it, why it matters so much.
Also, late reporting on how having two infected members of the Senate Judiciary Committee complicates Republican efforts to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
COOPER: In a state message from Walter Reed tonight, the president said he had to be quote out front presumably (ph) about his illness. If so, he might want to let the rest of the administration know that. We've been talking about the confusion over when the president may have been infected when he was tested and when he knew the results.
He first revealed his COVID-positive status about 1:00 A.M. yesterday, Friday -- early Friday morning, 1:00 A.M. on Twitter. And as we've been discussing, his senior aide, Hope Hicks, was already showing symptoms to board Air force One, Wednesday night. It's possible that she, the president and others, may have been infected as far back as the White House event last Saturday.
The farther back you go, of course, the more people affected. So the timeline really matters here and there's a lot of people who would need to be informed that they had come into contact with somebody, which is why it would be good to know when the president actually became positive and infectious.
CNN's Jim Acosta is being digging into it, joins us now from the White House. So what is the latest explanation from the White House about when President Trump first tested positive?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. I talked to a White House official just a short while ago who said, after the president returned from that fundraising trip at Bedminster, on Thursday, he was feeling symptoms, was given a -- one of those rapid tests that we've talked about so much, tested positive for that, and then the more in-depth PCR test was administered, tested positive on that as well. And then that is when things started to deteriorate for the president and he became infected with the coronavirus and started to show symptoms from the virus.
As we know, over the last 24 hours, we've gotten conflicting information from this administration. You know, the White House doctor went out today, Sean Conley, and painted this rosy picture of the president only to be contradicted by a White House official who was identified by the A.P. and The New York Times to be the chief of staff Mark Meadows.
And I can tell you, a senior White House official told me earlier today that one of the reasons why they were so concerned about the president and one of the reasons why they thought he needed to make the trip over to Walter Reed is because there were some very serious concerns yesterday that this bout with the coronavirus could take a turn for the worse.
COOPER: I don't understand how that's possible that they allow the president to go to a fundraising event for people who paid a lot of money to meet him, Thursday, even though they knew Hope Hicks have tested positive. [20:25:10]
And they have pulled staffers off that trip to New Jersey because Hope Hicks had tested positive.
I mean, just as a national security issue on the health of the president, wouldn't they have immediately tested the president? I mean, if they didn't, it just seems incredibly irresponsible.
ACOSTA: Well, Anderson. You have to understand that there is a baseline attitude over here at the White House that they just don't take the coronavirus seriously, and this is, you know, the mentality a few days ago. Things have changed since then. But the mentality a few days ago, the baseline attitude was that they did not take the coronavirus seriously as just about everybody else across the country. And, obviously, attitudes have changed in the last 72 hours.
But Hope Hicks, as you were just saying a few moments ago, was showing symptoms after the president's trip to Minnesota when they were on their way back on Air Force One, back to Washington. The next day, she tested positive for the coronavirus. And despite that, the president still went on this fundraising trip despite being in close proximity to Hope Hicks. I mean, that just goes to show you, you know, the recklessness of how they've been dealing with this all along.
Anderson, I'll take you back to something that I heard on the night the president gave this speech at the convention here on the south lawn of the White House when a senior White House official said to me, we're all going to catch this thing eventually. That has been the mentality, Anderson, throughout this entire saga, the coronavirus saga over here for the White House. It's inexplicable, it's inexcusable, it's dangerous, but it is how they have been behaving this entire time.
That has changed now, the president, you know, has a very serious illness. How much that changes, we'll have to wait and see.
COOPER: Yes. And just briefly, do we know when Hope Hicks tested positive? I know they knew Thursday morning. Did she get tested Wednesday night and Thursday morning?
ACOSTA: We believe Thursday is when she tested positive for the coronavirus. Keep in mind, Anderson, that rally in Minnesota wrapped up after 10:00. I was at that rally. And then they flew back on Air Force One. So, presumably, the test happened the following morning, and that is when they still made this determination for the president to go to Bedminster.
And keep in mind, we pressed Mark Meadows on this yesterday, Kayleigh McEnany on this yesterday. And they were saying well White House operations made the decision. You know, Anderson, they know how the president feels about this. White House operations is following the president's lead.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, I appreciate it.
I want to go to CNN's Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, I mean one extremely important question remains unanswered. When was the president's last negative test, again, shocking, according to Chris Wallace, revealed this. The president actually wasn't tested right before the debate. They got there too late. And Chris Wallace said it was basically an honor system.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. So we do not know the answer to that question and it is such an important question. And even the people who were in the debate prep meetings, for example, or others who came into the White House, you know, if they're going to be close to the president, they were tested, the people in the debate prep meetings, for example, last weekend.
COOPER: Who, by the way, have tested positive, Chris Christie, Kellyanne Conway.
BASH: The majority of them, exactly. And they have -- their belief was that the president was tested every day, therefore, they were all safe, and they weren't. Because, you know, we don't know whether the president was tested every day. And what we do know now is that, you know -- well, we don't know.
But one of the questions that is out there right now, Anderson, is one that David Axelrod posed, which is maybe he was tested and they got a result that they didn't want to talk about and then they didn't want to disclose it and that's where we are where we are.
Now, we don't know. But the fact that we even have to ask this question is because they have been so close-mouthed, rather, and opaque about what is going on.
COOPER: Well, I mean, not only that. The president's doctor says one thing and then according to The New York Times and A.P., the chief of staff, off the record or, you know, on background will tells reporters, last 24 hours has been very concerning and the next 48 hours are going to be critical.
BASH: And that happened, apparently, minutes after the doctor was speaking. It was totally contradictory.
But the thing I think that is also important to keep in mind is that so many people who were in and around the president, in and around the people who we now know are positive, they didn't have a chance early on to protect themselves and to protect their families because, A, you know the White House wasn't forthcoming.
And, B, when they did find out what was going on, they really didn't do a robust contact tracing episode at all because like, just for example, Rudy Giuliani, he didn't get -- I mean, this is Rudy Giuliani. He didn't even get a call to say who were you in contact with? Chris Christie didn't even get a call to say, who were you in contact with? Make sure that, you know, get the message out like it's supposed to be that. That didn't even happen. COOPER: Yes. I mean, look, he stood on the stage with Vice President Biden and the campaign didn't get a call and he could have been positive then and none of the family were wearing masks.
We're going to take a short break, Dana Bash. Thank you. With all these moving parts, will the mounting number of coronavirus cases among Republican senators threatened to derail the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett? An update from Capitol Hill, next.
COOPER: As President Trump continues to be hospitalized for coronavirus, Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee, today, asked for delay in the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett citing two Republican members, the committee who have also received a positive diagnosis. This is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants all GOP senators back to work by October 19th.
CNN's congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, now on what could be a difficult and rapidly shrinking timeline. So, if anyone can't come back by -- until October 19th, as Mitch McConnell hopes -- I mean, how big a problem is it for this confirmation going through or if they can't come back for that?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in the midst of a high wire act right now, which is kind of wild because if you think 72 hours ago, this nomination for Amy Coney Barrett, to be the next supreme court justice, was basically on cruise control. Everybody expected her to move through very quickly. They already knew they had the votes. And now, they have questions about attendance.
Now, the fact that the Senate is coming back on October 19th, underscores just the problems that Mitch McConnell is having right now. The Senate, Anderson, was supposed to be back on Monday. Instead, they are now basically delaying everything for two weeks before they can even come back.
And the reality right now for McConnell is it's a numbers game. The hope is that the sick -- the senators have tested positive will be back, but he has very limited margin for error. Already, two of his 53 Republican senators have said they don't want to move forward on the nomination for Amy Coney Barrett, at least until after the election.
Right now, that means he can afford to lose exactly one more senator to sickness and still be able to approve that nomination on the Senate floor. So right now, Mitch McConnell, today, sent an e-mail to his colleagues, one telling them about the delayed timeline in terms of coming back, but also making clear they need to be careful. He concluded that e-mail by saying wear masks, stay distant, come back safely. It's not just a matter of public health at this point for Republicans, it's a matter of confirming the nominee that they all know can tilt the Supreme Court. COOPER: And is it known when the two Republicans who've tested positive when they could return?
MATTINGLY: So right now, those two senators, Tom Tillis of North Carolina who was on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mike Lee, also on the Judiciary Committee from Utah, have both said they plan to quarantine for 10 days and expect to be back or at least be able to participate when the hearings for Amy Coney Barrett start. They're scheduled to start on October 12. Even though the Senate will not be in session. The plan right now is full steam ahead for those hearings.
But the wild card is this, Anderson. I think we're all very aware of this now. You just don't know how this virus is going to go. Right now, both Lee and Tillis have said through statements that they're dealing with minor symptoms right now, both have said that they're resting comfortably and they feel okay at this moment. But you just don't know how would things are going to go or turn over the course of that period of time.
Right now, the expectation is they will be back, and they will need to be back in order to get judge Barrett's nomination out of the committee by the end of the week of October 12. And perhaps for that committee vote on October 22nd.
But again, it's a wild card right now. And there's one other pretty crucial wildcard, they don't know if anybody else is going to get sick. A lot of very, very unsettled Republicans right now, not just from the nomination perspective, from public health perspective, Anderson.
COOPER: Just about 30 seconds left. I know you have a reporting on how some Republicans are feeling about the White House right now.
MATTINGLY: Just extreme frustration. I don't think there's any other way to put it. I think over here in the Senate, they wear mask, they're usually pretty distant from one another, they try and be cognizant of the realities of this moment, and then they get called over to the White House, they get tested, and they're told they can take their masks off.
I've talked to Republican officials that have basically said, we feel like we need to bubble wrap ourselves right now. And if that's going to be the case, we can't interact with the White House, as one Republican aide told me right now, it's just sheer irresponsibility from them, Anderson.
COOPER: Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
With all the confusion surrounding President Trump's medical condition, it's important to note that this isn't the first-time supporters of the President have tried to hide the facts about a president's health.
Coming up, I'll talk with presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, about what we're witnessing.
COOPER: Well, throughout our history, many presidents, many of their aides, and supporters have tried to hide their illnesses from the public and the press. In far less complicated times, reporters willingly went along when asked by aides not published details of President Roosevelt declining health near the end of World War Two.
No better presidential historian to ask about all this with -- than Doris Kearns Goodwin, she joins me now. Thanks so much for being with us.
President Trump --
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Glad to be with you.
COOPER: -- is -- he's certainly not the first president to experience a health crisis. It's not the first time the American public has had questions about a president's health. How has history judge other administrations when it comes to transparency about a president's health?
GOODWIN: You know, always when the presidential health was not revealed directly to the public, the rationale is the public will panic, we can't do it. I mean, looking at Cleveland having secret surgery for jaw cancer, in the middle of a recession, they figured, oh, my God, the stock market will go down. So, we can't let the public know. So, he's on a friend's yacht, and has part of his jaw removed, and we never know about it then.
Wilson is in the midst of the third wave of the Spanish flu, he's trying to persuade the country to do the League of Nations, and he has a severe stroke. So, they don't tell the public, that has not regarded well for Wilson or his administration at the time.
FDR, in the middle of World War Two, is diagnosed by a young cardiologist with severe congestive heart failure. His own doctor says don't even tell FDR what you found, don't say anything to the public. And then he goes out, the personal doctor does. and said, it's just bronchitis, he'll be fine.
So, it's never a good thing, because democracy needs the people to know. And I think they can face the truth. They have the wherewithal to do it. And then they can trust the people that are telling them what they're -- what they're not supposed to know.
COOPER: I know -- you said, you know, trust is the -- and the president's word is critical, and timetables are the spine of history. Given that, I'm wondering what you make of what we've been seeing just the last two days or three days.
GOODWIN: Well, the conflicting timetables, I think, is just a minuscule example of the fact that we've lost in many ways, trust in the President's word, and it's the most important thing a president has. Think of it a president is the person who has to tell us that we need to go to battle, why it's important to do so.
Roosevelt, FDR had to tell people why rationing was essential during World War Two, so that there'd be an equitable distribution of scarce resources. You had to believe him to go through all of that.
If you don't believe even the timetable of what's happened, who knows what, when, is what history is always about. And the fact that we've had a conflicting timetable now, just raises the larger question of what it was that President Trump knew back in February about the seriousness of the -- of the virus, but didn't think the public could hear it thought, again, the public would panic. It's the same thing all over again.
COOPER: It's so interesting, though, because I mean, all along throughout this administration, from the very beginning, people have been saying, you know, it's critical that you trust the president, because when there's a crisis, and inevitably, there'll be a crisis, you're going to need to be able to trust his word. And we are now seeing the results of what has been so in the last several years.
GOODWIN: Yes, that's right. If they're saying it's critical to trust the president, then it's critical that the President trust you. I think that's the essential thing.
You know, in September of 1862 -- my mind just always goes back to the past when Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, and then there was a huge blowback, the Republicans lost in the midterms. A lot of people in the North thought this was a bad idea, would prolong the war.
People started questioning, will he keep his word, because he had promised it would be issued in January of 1863? And Frederick Douglass, his critics said, if we've come to trust anything, and Abraham Lincoln, it is that he's a man who keeps his word. That's the one thing we know about him. So, keeping your word and your word is your bond is the most important resource the President can have.
COOPER: You also pointed the issue of facemasks as an example of the power of setting an example. I don't know if the president now getting sick could change that, you know -- could make people start to wear masks or if he himself will start to wear, you know, wear a mask, change his message.
You know, he wasn't wearing a mask on -- in his address -- the video that he put out, I don't know who was shooting that video. I don't know how many people were in the room. I assume they were in full protective equipment. I certainly hope they were.
GOODWIN: It's a really interesting question, because the president of Notre Dame apologized for the fact that he wasn't wearing a mask at that Rose Garden ceremony, when he was telling the people in his community to do so. So, the open question is, will President Trump have learned from this experience? And will he now acknowledge the importance of wearing masks? But even if he doesn't do so, that image of the Rose Garden ceremony,
and the numbers of people so close to each other now, the numbers of people who got the virus, will be permanently imprinted, I think, on our minds, and sometimes images can be even more powerful than words.
I mean, think of the image of what the brutal attacks on the Selma marchers and how that mobilized the civil rights community and the Voting Rights Act, or the image of George Floyd being murdered, mobilized the Black Lives movement. So, I think that image of the Rose Garden ceremony and the circles of the people who got the virus and who knows it radiates to them and their families and to escalating others numbers of people, that will be powerful as a reminder, hopefully to the supporters of not wearing masks of the importance of masks and social distancing right now.
COOPER: Yes. Doris Kearns Goodwin, it's great to have you on. Thank you so much.
GOODWIN: I'm glad you did. Thank you very much.
COOPER: I love hearing about history.
Still ahead, few masks one very crowded Rose Garden. The question, was this a super spreader event? As Doris was just talking about, this led to the White House coronavirus crisis. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with me, next.
COOPER: Again, our breaking news, Trump advisor Chris Christie is now hospitalized after testing positive of coronavirus. Christie says he is feeling good and has quote, mild symptoms. And the hospital stay is a precautionary measure. Christie and several others who also have the virus attended last Saturday's events at the White House where President Trump announced his Supreme Court pick, gathering with few masks, no social distancing, leading to question, could this be ground zero of where it all started? More from our own Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAYA GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you're looking at is the origins of a likely superspreader event. At least eight people, including President Donald Trump himself, are now infected. And that is among those who have had the ability to actually get tested.
GUPTA (on-camera): You can't see the virus but what is happening during a super spreading event?
ERIN BROMAGE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: You know, it's a very rough analogy. But if we think of a campfire, or say that that's a person who is infected and releasing virus, it's not like it's the ring around the person that is actually going to be the risk, it's those that are on the side where more of the virus is being projected either through big talking, or through the breeze the air that's blowing it there.
GUPTA (voice-over): But it was also these moments that caught CNN medical analyst, Erin Bromage's eye.
BROMAGE: When the event finished, when they're all coming up and hugging and shaking hands and saying congratulations, that's where -- if I was a betting person, I would be putting my money on of where this occurred.
GUPTA: We know that the safety protocol for the event was to test anyone in close proximity to the President. But it wasn't required for everyone attending the ceremony. And it clearly wasn't foolproof. Again, take a look here, where the people who were diagnosed as positive were sitting next to each other. Which leads us to again, look at what happened right before and right after.
Former White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, closely leaning in to speak with Attorney General William Barr, Notre Dame president, Father John Jenkins, closely talking to a group of people with no mask. Lots of people closely interacting with their guard down.
It can be difficult to pinpoint these superspreader events. This one ceremony, though, is giving us a look at the anatomy of how it happens all the time, not just here. But anytime people aggregate together in large groups in the middle of a pandemic.
BROMAGE: There's no doubt that there has been transmission at the protests, the political rallies, it's just a fact that the virus doesn't discriminate. Just because we haven't documented it, doesn't mean it hasn't happened. It's just that we've got an event now that is very visible, well-documented, well-tested, and we're seeing the outcome from it.
COOPER: Sanjay joins me now. Sanjay, can you just tell us for the typical timeline of when someone is infectious, after, you know, becoming infected and why this event could have been during that time period?
GUPTA: Yes. So, this is really important, you know, after you're exposed to the virus, you're not going to develop a detectable level of virus -- sorry, in the body for some time. The virus starts to replicate eventually gets to the point where one of these tests that we're talking about is going to be able to detect that. When is that? Well, it can -- you know, that's the incubation period, it can last up to 14 days, as you know, Anderson, but typically right around five days, and if people are going to develop symptoms, it's around that time as well.
But I think what's really important to your question, Anderson, is that bottom line, the purple line. So even -- in the few days before you develop symptoms -- so as to say the president developed symptoms on Thursday, the two to three days before he developed symptoms, is when you're likely to be infectious and perhaps even most infectious contagious, according to some of these studies. So, you know, you back up the calendar to Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, perhaps in terms of when someone again, pre-symptomatic but most likely to spread.
COOPER: Shouldn't everyone who's at the event be tested?
GUPTA: Yes. You know, it's a -- it's a good question. I think that if I when I look at that video of the event and I've looked at that now with a few viral dynamic's experts, you know, when you -- when you look at them seated for a period of time, you're thinking about what constitutes a close contact. How close they are obviously and it looks like, you know, they're within six feet obviously even wrote a row, not just next to each other.
But then, Anderson, also duration, longer than 15 minutes is typically considered long durations. If you are sitting next to someone with COVID for that period of time there, I think those people should be tested.
COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, thanks.
A lot more head. We'll check in again with our reporters at the White House and Walter Reed Medical Center to get an update on the President's condition as those closest to him, including his doctor sow confusion.
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