WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined Erin Burnett on CNN to discuss the president’s return to the White House and the health risk he and his administration are posing for the American people.

When asked about President Trump’s photoshoot upon return to the White House, Senator Coons said, “I can't believe that I'm still capable of being surprised at anything Donald Trump does. This is just another reminder that we elected a reality TV star who doesn’t take seriously the health and the risks that he is putting others through. The CDC just renewed their guidance that COVID-19 can be spread, can be airborne, particularly in indoor spaces. And after tweeting out that he’s learned a lot about COVID-19 in his brief stay at Walter Reed, he demonstrated first that he cares more about appearances than substance, second that he doesn’t take seriously the health and safety of the folks at the White House.”

“If even the President of the United States, surrounded by people with world class health care, being tested every day, can get COVID-19, that means we need to be more vigilant,” Senator Coons said. 

Full audio and video available here. A transcript is provided below.

Q: So I want to go now to Senator Chris Coons. So I want to ask you now, now that the story's changed a little bit, right? He goes up, takes his mask off, he goes in with people, he's unmasked, he then wants to reshoot it. So they all stay around him while he keeps his mask off to reshoot it so he likes how it looks. Your reaction?

Sen. Coons: Erin, I can't believe that I'm still capable of being surprised at anything Donald Trump does. This is just another reminder that we elected a reality TV star who doesn’t take seriously the health and the risks that he is putting others through. The CDC just renewed their guidance that COVID-19 can be spread, can be airborne, particularly in indoor spaces. And after tweeting out that he’s learned a lot about COVID-19 in his brief stay at Walter Reed, he demonstrated first that he cares more about appearances than substance, second that he doesn’t take seriously the health and safety of the folks at the White House. I’ll remind you nearly 20 people were infected in recent days over events at the White House. And last, he shows he isn’t the leader we need to bring us through this pandemic safely. Just since he went to Walter Reed, 10,000 more Americans have been infected, and this coming week, 5,000 Americans will die. President Trump is not setting a good example of how to respond in this pandemic.

Q: So the fact is though that he also, he did just stage this, right – he staged the whole thing.  He produced it with the helicopter arrival. He then literally wanted to stage and do re-dos, as if this is a reality TV show, I mean as if it’s fiction, right, as if it’s entertainment. I guess let's just call it that – it’s entertainment. Meanwhile, those who are there, that's their job. They just were put in a position of risk, right, personal health risk.

Sen. Coons: Erin, it reminds me of how he chose to go out for a ride around town to wave at his supporters, putting at risk the Secret Service agents who were compelled to travel with him. The ways in which his example is misleading Americans into doing risky things. You just had Kristen on, who lost her father, who believed it was ok to go unmasked because he saw President Trump doing that. I’ll remind you in recent months, President Trump has led thousands of his supporters in large rallies unmasked, not socially distant, not following public health guidelines. 

Q: In retrospect, everybody has learned a lesson in the very basic thing in that you can’t have us test 72 hours before. I’m putting aside the fact as to whether the president even had one that was negative because they’ve refused to disclose that information. But 72 hours is too many hours, ok, and an honor system isn’t acceptable. We’ve learned a whole lot of things. So now, you know, I was talking to a doctor this weekend. He said the obvious thing is to put plexiglass up whether you’re separating them or not. And so what's your response to that from the vice president's own team still mocking basic safety?

Sen. Coons: We need to be more vigilant... we need to be more determined to keep people safe. If even the President of the United States, surrounded by people with world class health care, being tested every day, can get COVID-19, that means we need to be more vigilant. And for the vice president to mock my colleague, Senator Harris for this, for Lindsey Graham to be barreling ahead with confirmation hearings in the Senate without a clear path towards doing so safely, is just a reminder of the ways in which in this pandemic, our Republican leadership – the president and vice president – haven’t been committed to our safety.

Q: Senator, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

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