CNN’s Anderson Cooper told singer Willie Nelson in an interview airing Wednesday it was “really classy” that the country singer lied to protect former President Jimmy Carter’s son after they smoked pot together at the White House in 1980.
Nelson in his autobiography admitted to having lit up on the White House roof between jam sessions for Carter that summer but claimed at the time he had gotten high with a White House employee instead.
“I know in your book you said it was with a servant ’cause you didn’t want to get his son in trouble, which I thought was really classy of you,” Cooper told Nelson, asking him how it happened.
The songwriter said he and James Earl “Chip” Carter III, one of Carter’s four children, were friends and he was showing him around the White House that day.
“And then we went up on the roof and looked around and that was pretty cool,” Nelson said.
“That is pretty cool indeed,” Cooper laughed. “I’m kinda curious whether it was stuff you brought or whether it was stuff that he brought but I won’t pry for details,” Cooper joked to laughter from Nelson.
Carter set the record straight in a recent documentary about his friendships with musicians while he was in the Oval Office.
Nelson said “that his companion that shared the pot with him was one of the servants in the White House,” Carter said in the documentary “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President.” “That is not exactly true — it actually was one of my sons, which he didn’t want to categorize as a pot-smoker like him.”
In 2015, Carter III admitted to GQ that Nelson “told me not to ever tell anybody” about the incident involving what the “On the Road Again” singer has called a “big fat Austin torpedo.”
For the documentary, Carter III said he and Nelson headed upstairs during a break while the singer had been jamming at the White House in the summer of 1980, according to the New York Post.
“I said, ‘Let’s go upstairs.’ We just kept going up ’til we got to the roof, where we leaned against the flagpole at the top of the place and lit one up,” he said. “If you know Washington, the White House is the hub of the spokes, the way it was designed. Most of the avenues run into the White House. You could sit up and could see all the traffic coming right at you. It’s a nice place up there.”
Cooper hasn’t always been so easygoing regarding the current president. In November, he apologized after calling President Trump a flailing “obese turtle” while objecting to the election results and has also compared him to a “dictator.”