Anderson Cooper slammed President Trump over his refusal to level with the public about the seriousness and chronology of his condition after admitting he tested positive for the virus at the center of the ongoing pandemic. He drew a parallel between the president’s refusal to reveal when he contracted the virus with how those living with HIV are treated in this country as a result of discriminatory laws.
“There are gay people in this country who are HIV-positive, and in some states, they can be arrested if they don’t inform a sexual partner they are HIV positive, even though if they’re on medication it’s absolutely zero threat to any sexual partner,” Cooper unloaded on Trump surrogate, former Senator Rick Santorum. “In America, in several states, they can be sent to jail because of that. Donald Trump is out there, possibly infecting people. He could’ve infected Joe Biden on the stage, and he’s not held responsible.”
As of 2018, 26 states had laws on the books that in some way criminalized HIV according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. In a dozen of those states, those who don't disclose a positive status to sexual partners can be sentenced with anywhere from 12 years to life in prison.
The fireworks started when Cooper called out Trump for “refusing to allow his doctor” to inform the public about the date of his last negative test, saying “he’s covering up” potentially damaging information about when he became infected, and cavalierly putting others at risk from the dangerous virus that has killed nearly 215,000 Americans.
“He very well may have stood on the stage knowingly positive” with the illness, Cooper pointed out, “yelling at Joe Biden, spewing who knows what.”
Cooper characterized the president’s actions as “completely irresponsible” and later called him the “paragon of recklessness.”
“You’re talking about behavior and character,” Santorum responded. “I’m talking about policy.”
Cooper pointed out Trump was telling the director of the CDC to rewrite back-to-school policy guidelines because they were too harsh, to which Santorum responded that the CDC “doesn’t run the country” and the president “has the right to say to the CDC, I disagree.”
When Santorum stated he was “fine with the president making decisions about what the policy of the country is,” David Axelrod, former campaign and presidential adviser to President Barack Obama, interrupted.
“When you subjugate public interest to your political interest to the degree this president has on this virus and people’s lives are lost because of it, that’s not just a character problem,” Axelrod said. “That’s a policy problem.”