Dr. Sean Conley was seen departing the White House last week alongside Trump, who opted to fly to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida rather than attend Biden’s inauguration. A White House spokesperson confirmed to The Associated Press Monday that the osteopathic physician will now assume a teaching role at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland.
Conley is being replaced by Dr. Kevin O’Connor, a retired Army colonel and osteopathic physician who was Biden’s doctor during his tenure as vice president.
At an Oct. 3 press conference, the doctor dodged questions about whether Trump had been on oxygen and, in doing so, appeared to downplay the severity of the president’s illness. He also issued conflicting statements about the timeline of Trump’s positive COVID-19 test, prompting speculation that Trump ― who routinely railed against wearing masks and implementing social distancing measures on the campaign trail ― attended group events after his diagnosis.
Conley’s lack of transparency prompted many in both the media and medical professions to question his integrity and motivations.
“On the question of [Trump’s] personal health, a matter of public interest, we need more than spin doctors,” a Washington Post editorial declared in October. “We need real doctors providing real information.”
Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University, told The New York Times that same month, “Yesterday’s briefing was a spin doctor, not a medical doctor. You need to say what needs to be said, but we know that the president doesn’t like to look weak.”
A day after his initial remarks, however, Conley claimed he simply had been trying to maintain an “upbeat attitude.”
“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” he said. “And in doing so, it came off that we’re trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”
CLARIFICATION: The original version of this article has been updated to indicate that O’Connor is an osteopathic physician.