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Bondi responds to interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper over gay rights positions

CNN host grills Florida attorney general during coverage of Orlando shooting

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been fighting back after a heated interview on Tuesday with CNN's Anderson Cooper over her role in the state's fight against same-sex marriage with her response to the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Since the interview, Bondi has responded, saying Cooper conducted an inappropriate interview after telling her it would be about something else. 

The interview started with a question about scam artists using the tragedy to take advantage of people, then Cooper started asking Bondi how she can offer support to the victims of the shooting.

RELATED: CNN's Anderson Cooper grills Florida AG Bondi over gay rights positions

"Do you really think you are a champion of the gay community?" CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Bondi, telling her that a large portion of the LGBT community in Orlando had told him she was "being a hypocrite."

Bondi in 2014 had argued in court filings that recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states would "impose significant public harm" to the people of Florida.

On Tuesday, she sought to defend those words, telling Cooper she was simply seeking to uphold the state constitution.

"That's what I was defending," she said. "It had nothing to do ... I've never said I don't like gay people. That's ridiculous."

Cooper pressed on.

"But you were arguing (in court) that gay marriage -- if there was gay marriage, if there was same-sex marriage -- that would do harm to the people of Florida, to Florida society," he said. "Are you saying you do not believe it would do harm to Florida?"

"Of course not, of course not," Bondi replied. "Gay people -- no, I've never said that. Those words have never come out of my mouth."

The interview lasted more than five minutes, with a back and forth between the two. 

Bondi later went on a New York radio show, saying CNN misled her and told her that the interview was about fighting scam artists and price gouging. And after speaking with Cooper, Bondi said CNN cut out the question about scams when the interview was posted online, only posting the LGBT portion of the interview.

"He completely flipped, got into a constitutional issue, of course, that was in the Florida Constitution. There's a time and a place for everything. Yesterday wasn't the time or place, in front of a hospital, when we could have been helping victims. And Anderson Cooper is the champion for the LGBT community and he could have been helping people, so I was disappointed. I was extremely disappointed and it wasn't the time nor place," Bondi said on WOR Radio. 

News4Jax reached out to the producer of Anderson Cooper's CNN show about Bondi's claim that the interview had been edited before being put online, but has not yet received a response. 

As of late Wednesday evening, News4Jax discovered CNN had posted video online of both the edited interview and the full 6 1/2-minute interview. Bondi and Cooper talked about scams in only the first 57 seconds of the full interview.

Bondi's office released the following statement Wednesday to News4Jax:

"In the wake of this horrible tragedy, 15 of my victim advocates and I have been working with the families to provide grief counseling, as well as victim compensation for burial expenses. We are dedicated to love, kindness and helping victims.

We learned that potentially millions of dollars were quickly flowing into online organizations throughout the country all claiming to help victims of this tragedy. We needed to get the message out fast and had an agreement with CNN that we were warning generous Americans who are donating to these victims about charity scams. We are disappointed Anderson Cooper edited out the entire portion of the interview that could have helped many victims’ families and generous Americans during this time of need.

If you wish to donate, please be aware there are more than 100 crowdfunding websites (such as GoFundMe accounts) popping up throughout the country, claiming to help these victims. Please remain generous, but follow these guidelines:

Consider donating to an established disaster-relief charity or an established aid organization based in the Orlando area. Numerous incident-specific charities may be created, some legitimately wishing to bring aid to those affected and others wishing to profit off of the goodwill offered in a time of need;

Determine whether a charity soliciting money is legitimate by checking to see if it is registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 800HelpFla.com or by calling (800) HELP-FLA;

Contact the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance at Give.org to determine whether a charity has any complaints against them;

Understand how much of the donation will actually go toward the work of the charity as opposed to administrative and fundraising expenses. To learn more about a registered charity’s spending visit FreshFromFlorida.com; and

Watch for similar sounding charities. It’s not unusual for scammers to choose names that sound like the names of legitimate, widely known charities."


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