In his book “Donald Trump v. The United States,” Michael Schmidt writes that the White House wanted Vice President Mike Pence to be put on standby to temporarily assume the powers of the presidency during Trump’s unannounced visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November, according to a copy of the book reviewed by the Times on Monday and by CNN on Tuesday.
Trump denied on Twitter that he ever went to Walter Reed due to problems with his health, and in the past has called the trip “a routine physical.”
“It never ends! Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “Never happened to THIS candidate - FAKE NEWS. Perhaps they are referring to another candidate from another Party!”
Trump’s White House doctor, Sean Conley, released a statement later Tuesday addressing the president’s health. Conley said Trump “remains healthy” and that there are no concerns about his ability to maintain the responsibilities of the presidency.
“I can confirm that President Trump has not experienced nor been evaluated for a cerebrovascular accident (stroke), transient ischemic attack (mini stroke), or any acute cardiovascular emergencies, as have been incorrectly reported in the media,” the doctor’s statement read.
However, Trump and the White House are denying a health issue that was never reported by “the media” ― Schmidt said he did not include information about a series of mini-strokes, let alone any specific health issue as a reason for the Walter Reed visit.
It was mentioned Aug. 1, when author Don Winslow tweeted claiming at least three people have told him the president suffered “a series of mini-strokes.” His post included a video from 2017 in which Trump appeared to be slurring his speech and mispronouncing words. CNN analyst Joe Lockhart also mentioned it Monday, leading Trump’s 2020 campaign to call for the former Clinton White House press secretary to be fired from his role at the network.
Trump’s Tuesday tweet did not mention Schmidt’s claim about Pence being prepared to temporarily take over the presidency. In his book, the reporter wrote that he learned “in the hours leading up to Trump’s trip to the hospital, word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized.” Schmidt did not specify the sources for his claims beyond saying “I learned.”
To this day, the White House has still not fully explained why Trump had an unscheduled, unannounced visit to Walter Reed in November. At the time of the visit, the White House claimed that Trump was getting a head start on his annual physical and that he would undergo the remainder of the exam this year. Unlike previous trips to Walter Reed, this visit was not published on the president’s public schedule. The president’s method of transportation to the hospital, as well as his attire, that day were also starkly different from his routine trips there.
The American public has gotten less transparency about Trump’s health than it has with other modern-day presidents. During his 2016 campaign, Trump refused to release details about his medical history ― something that previous candidates from both parties released. Instead, he released a short letter from his personal doctor that declared his health to be “astonishingly excellent.”