Cooper Grills Florida AG On Gay Rights Record: ‘You Never Even Tweeted About Gay Pride Month!’

On Tuesday’s CNN Newsroom, Anderson Cooper talked to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi about what she was doing to help the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting and their families. Instead of focusing on the topic at hand, Cooper decided to attack Bondi on her gay rights record, relentlessly asking if she was a hypocrite for helping the gay community now when she allegedly didn’t defend them in office.

In the five minute interview, Cooper repeatedly asked Bondi to explain how she could defend the victims of this shooting after “years” of “basically going after gay people” in court. Do you really think you're a champion of the gay community?” Cooper asked.

After Bondi defended her record, saying she had never said that she didn’t “like gay people” but was only defending Florida’s constitution, as she was sworn in to do, Cooper asked again:

COOPER: But you-- do you worry about using language accusing gay people of trying to do harm to the people of Florida when doesn't that send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in mind?

Cooper then hammered Bondi for helping victim’s partners find information about or visit their loved ones if they were still living, in the hospital. “You for years were fighting that very idea,” Cooper stated,  “Isn’t there a sick irony in that?”

He then asked Bondi if it was “hypocritical” for her to help the gay community, since they didn’t see her as a friend.

COOPER: I’m just wondering though, is it hypocritical to portray yourself as a champion of the gay community when -- I'm just reflecting what gay people told me they don't see you as this.

Apparently helping victim’s families and loved ones after a tragedy isn’t good enough, you must also engage in hashtag activism to be seen as an ally of the LGBT community. Because then Cooper hammered Bondi for not tweeting about the right things.

COOPER: It's just that -- I will say I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now. I read your Twitter history for the last year and I saw you tweeting about, you know, national dog month and national shelter dog appreciation day or adopt a shelter dog month. It is gay pride month. You never even tweeted about gay pride month. 

Finally Cooper ended his hostile interview by urging Bondi again to become a LGBT activist, asking, “Moving forward, do you see yourself as being a vocal champion for gay and lesbian citizens in the state?”

Full transcript of the interview below:

ANDERSON COOPER: I saw you the other day saying that anyone who attacks the LGBT community, our LGBT community you said will be gone after to the full extent of the law.

FLORIDA AG PAM BONDI:  That's right.

COOPER: I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here yesterday who are not fans of yours and who said that they thought you were being a hypocrite, that you for years have fought -- you basically gone after gay people, said that in court that gay people simply by fighting for marriage equality for trying to do harm to the people of Florida. To induce public harm, I believe was the term you used in court. Do you really think you're a champion of the gay community?

BONDI: Let me tell you. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on the bible and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida. That's not a law. That was voted into our state constitution by the voters of Florida. That's what I was defending. It had nothing to do -- I've never said I don't like gay people. That’s ridiculous.

COOPER: But you-- do you worry about using language accusing gay people of trying to do harm to the people of Florida when doesn't that send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in mind?

BONDI: Anderson, I don't believe gay people could do harm to the state of Florida

COOPER: But you argued that in court.

BONDI: My lawyer argued a case defending what the supreme court allowed the voters to put in our state constitution.

COOPER: Right. But you were arguing that gay marriage, if there was gay marriage, same-sex marriage, that would do harm to the people of Florida. Florida signed it.

BONDI: That it was constitutional to put it in the constitution.

COOPER:  Are you saying you did not believe it would do harm to Florida?

BONDI: Of course not, of course not. Gay --No, I never said that. Those words have never come out of my mouth.

COOPER: But that is specifically what you were arguing in court.

BONDI:  No. No. [exasperated sigh] No. What we argued was it was in the constitution of the state of Florida. Let me give you an example. Medical marijuana. A 12-year-old could get it if it passed. We took that to the supreme court because of that language, hold on. Because of that language. But if that passed, I would defend that, as well, because it's my job to defend what's in the constitution of the state of Florida. That's what it was about.

COOPER: The hotline that you've been talking about on television which allows family members and spouses of the dead to get information, which is incredibly important, and appreciate you talking about on the air, had there been no gay marriage, no same-sex marriage, you do realize that spouses, there would be no spouses, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able to visit in the hospital here. Isn't there a sick irony in that?

BONDI:  Let me take it a step further. People aren't right now who are partners and aren't married officially aren't able to get information so we're trying to assist them in getting information. Because early on --

COOPER: Isn't there a sick irony you for years were fighting that very idea?

BONDI: I was defending the constitution of what over 69% of the voters put in the constitution.

COOPER: Right, but the courts, the federal courts said that's not the constitution and you continued to fight it.

BONDI: No. That's why we rushed to get it to the U.S. Supreme court because we needed --

COOPER: Well but before the Supreme Court, there was a federal judge and you continued to fight it after the federal judge ruled and you in fact spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money fighting it.

BONDI: Anderson, we rushed to get it to the supreme court. You know what today is about? Human beings. Today's about victims.

COOPER:  It is about gay and lesbian victims.

BONDI: It sure is. Lgbt victims.

COOPER: I’m just wondering though, is it hypocritical to portray yourself as a champion of the gay community when -- I'm just reflecting what gay people told me they don't see you as this.

BONDI: Anderson, I’m not portraying myself as anything other than trying to help human beings, who have lost their lives, who are right behind us now in hospital beds, who have family members who aren't gettinging the services they need. Tshis morning, you know what I've been doing? Trying to fight with a funeral home for overcharging family members.

COOPER: That’s sickening.

BONDI: To bury their loved ones. I'm not championing anything other than Floridians. That’s what this is about. We are about human beings.

COOPER:  Right.

BONDI: This is about victims who need help. This is about family members who need services. That’s what this is about.

COOPER: It's just that -- I will say I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now. I read your Twitter history for the last year and I saw you tweeting about, you know, national dog month and national shelter dog appreciation day or adopt a shelter dog month. It is gay pride month. You never even tweeted about gay pride month.

BONDI: Well if you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together all different color rainbow, people.

COOPER:  So you just put that up now.

BONDI: Yeah I did, after this horrible tragedy.

COOPER: Right.

BONDI: Absolutely.

COOPER: Right.

BONDI: The only thing I’m championing are human beings whose lives were lost.

COOPER: So that’s your message to gay and lesbian people here. Because, again, I'm just telling you what people have been telling me to ask you, moving forward, do you see yourself as being a vocal champion for gay and lesbian citizens in the state?

BONDI: They are citizens just like anyone else. Of course. My goodness, Anderson, we have had 49 people murdered. Simply because they were in a bar at the wrong time.

COOPER: Right.

BONDI:That’s horrible. I'm a career prosecutor. Those family members are devastated. These surviving victims are devastated. That's what this is about.

COOPER: I know a lot of gay and lesbian people in the state want to feel that the people that represent them, represent everybody in the state.

BONDI: We're human beings and that's what this is about.

COOPER: Well I appreciate you talking to us.

BONDI: Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you so much. Thanks for all you're doing on behalf of the victims.

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