President Donald Trump’s doctor is denying in a memo that the president suffered “any chest pain” or “any urgent or acute issues” after an “off the record” visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center.
A contributor for the Hill who writes on veterans issues and used to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs previously claimed that President Donald Trump visited Walter Reed National Medical Center due to chest discomfort. That’s a different story from the White House statement on Trump’s November 16, 2019 visit, which said Trump was undergoing “portions” of a routine annual exam.
Others, such as CNN, have questioned the president’s hospital visit, saying that it deviated from established norms in multiple ways.
On November 18, 2019, Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, pushed back at those concerns, releasing a memo from Sean P. Conley, physician to the president. He wrote that the president traveled to Walter Reed for a “routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care he receives throughout the year.”
According to Conley, “due to scheduling uncertainties, the trip was kept off the record.” The president underwent “an hour of examination.”
“Despite some of the speculation, the President has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated or any urgent or acute issues. Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations,” the memo stated.
The memo continued, “A full summary of his labs and exam will be incorporated into next year’s report, but the President has consented to me sharing that his total cholesterol is now 165 (mg/dl), with an HDL of 70, an LDL of 84 and a non-HDL of 95.”
“Primary preventative medical care is something that occurs continuously throughout the year, it is not just a single annual event.”
Trump himself tweeted, “Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery at the amazing Walter Reed Medical Center. Those are truly some of the best doctors anywhere in the world. Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.”
The White House told reporters Sunday morning that Trump would be remaining at the White House and did not have any public events on his schedule. It is not atypical for Trump, or for any president, to have a Sunday without any public events or departures from the White House. Trump tweeted up a storm on Sunday, though. “…Joe Biden may be Sleepy and Very Slow, but he is not a ‘rabid dog.’ He is actually somewhat better than that, but I am the only one who can get you where you have to be. You should act quickly, get the deal done. See you soon!” was one of his November 17 tweets.
Here’s the context behind the chest discomfort tweet, which caused a flurry of attention on social media.
“#BreakingNews Sources tell me from Walter Reed the President was being checked out for chest discomfort. No other information is available at this time,” Andrew Vernon wrote on Twitter on the evening of November 16, 2019. Vernon’s Twitter page profile says that he is “President & CEO. Opinion Contributor @thehill. @ColumbiaMSPH Alum & @UMaine Alum. @USArmy Veteran. #GoHabsGo.”
According to an article on him by the University of Maine, Vernon used to work at the VA in the position of “coordinator and cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation therapist with the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service.”
The chest discomfort claim has not been confirmed by other sources. However, others have written that it’s unusual how the president’s Walter Reed hospital visit unfolded.
For starters, in the last two years, Trump’s annual physical was held in January or February, CNN correspondent Jeremy Diamond reported during a broadcast on the network, and he said the previous exams were publicly announced and were on Trump’s public schedule. In this case, reporters were even told they couldn’t immediately report on the visit, and the visit was unannounced.
“A little bit strange circumstances. The White House has declined to say if there is any other issue at play here,” he said. Instead, the network was directed to the White House statement that downplayed the visit. “According to the White House, all this is is the president getting ahead of things here,” said Diamond.
Diamond further reported on November 17 that a source told him Trump’s Saturday visit “did not follow the protocol of a routine presidential medical exam.” In addition, reported Diamond, the medical staff there did not get a system-wide notice of the president’s visit as normally occurs; Trump didn’t travel on Marine One, which is also normally the case; the visit wasn’t even on the president’s “internal schedule,” and a source called it all “abnormal,” although the president seems in good health.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told Diamond in response: “We’re not going to get into security and movement protocols when it comes to the President, but as my statements said he’s in good health and it was a routine checkup as part of his annual physical. I’ve given plenty of on the record statements that were truthful and accurate — actively trying to find and report conspiracy theories really needs to stop.”
Appearing on the Jeanine Pirro show on Fox News on Saturday evening, Grisham said the president chose Saturday to go to Walter Reed because it was a down day, according to KAKE-TV.
“He’s healthy as can be,” she told Pirro. “He has more energy than anybody in the White House. That man works from 6 a.m. until very, very late at night.”
Grisham told CNN that the White House “will not release results of the President’s health until he completes all aspects of his annual physical,” the network reported, quoting her as adding that Trump “also stopped by to say hello to the medical staff of Walter Reed, to share his thanks for all the outstanding care they provide to our Wounded Warriors, and wish them an early happy Thanksgiving.”
Jonathan Wackrow, CNN law enforcement analyst, tweeted of the White House statements on the president’s trip to Walter Reed, “This does not add up; the White House Medical Unit has very comprehensive facilities at the White House complex that could easily accommodate most of what is needed in an annual physical. As a fmr USSS Agent assigned POTUS, I have never seen the annual formality occur in stages.” CNN reported that the president spent two hours at Walter Reed.
Earlier in the day, on November 16, the White House confirmed that President Trump had visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland for an exam. The White House made no reference to chest pain or discomfort, claiming instead that the president was healthy without “complaints” and had gone to Walter Reed to “begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed.” The New York Post also labeled this a “surprise visit.”
“Hopefully all is well with the president,” wrote CNN anchor Brian Stelter on Twitter. “Hopefully the White House is telling the whole truth about his doctor’s visit. But this W.H. gives us new reasons to distrust it almost every day. So skepticism is not just understandable – it’s necessary.” However, others in the comment thread of Vernon’s tweet argued that, if it was something very serious, Trump wouldn’t have been allowed to leave the hospital or the visit would have taken longer, and he wouldn’t have been driven there in the first place, but his doctors would have opted for treatment that was closer.
Here’s what you need to know:
Vernon Has a Company in New York That Is ‘Veteran Centric’ & Worked at the VA for Seven Years
Vernon’s biography on the Hill website, where he sometimes opines about veterans’ issues, says, “Andrew Vernon was a career employee at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for seven years. Vernon is principal for Veteran and Military Affairs at Andrew Vernon & Associates. He holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of Maine, and a master’s degree in Health Administration from the Columbia University Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health. You can find him on Twitter: @Vernon_AndrewJ.” He only has 146 followers on that Twitter page.
He’s also had op-eds published in other publications, such as the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. According to his LinkedIn page, his company is based in White Plains, New York. His LinkedIn page says he was appointed by Barack Obama to serve on the Selective Service System from 2012-2016. He also worked as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton.
Vernon is an Army veteran who has also tried to raise attention to veterans’ suicides in the past. Vernon’s Twitter is also filled with retweets of posts about Bernie Sanders’ policy positions, among others (Sanders, of course, recently had a heart attack).
Vernon has retweeted posts critical of Trump, such as a tweet from Democratic Sen. Jon Tester that reported, “We found out that the Trump Administration purposely blocked thousands of #VietnamVeterans from getting the health care and benefits they earned” and a comment by Gen. James Mattis roasting the president. You can see his Hill articles here.
The White House Said the President’s Exam Was in Anticipation of a ‘Busy 2020’
According to CNN, the White House said that Trump, 73, went to Walter Reed for a “quick exam and labs.” The network reported that, according to the White House, this was part of an annual physical exam, anticipating a “very busy 2020.”
“Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Josh Dawsey, a White House reporter for The Washington Post, tweeted this quote from Grisham after Trump’s Walter Reed visit: “After a quick exam and labs, the President is headed back downtown. The President remains healthy and energetic without complaints, as demonstrated by his repeated vigorous rally performances in front of thousands of Americans several times a week.”
Grisham has not responded to Vernon’s claim.
Trump Has Been Deemed Generally Healthy in Past Exams, But He’s Old for a President & Has Some Warning Signs
In 2018, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported for CNN that President Trump “has a common form of heart disease” that was common among men his age and easy to address with the right lifestyle and medication changes. If he didn’t make those changes, Gupta warned in that article, Trump had “a moderate risk of having a heart attack in the next three to five years.”
After news broke of the November 16, 2019 visit, Gupta said on CNN that some routine tests can be conducted at the White House but “specific tests would require a visit to Walter Reed.” He said that it wasn’t clear whether Walter Reed’s medical team knew about Trump’s visit in advance because normally they would “spend a lot of time” getting ready for such a thing, according to Gupta.
According to USA Today, Trump was declared healthy after undergoing his last physical exam in February 2019.
“I am happy to announce the president of the United States is in very good health and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency, and beyond,” Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, wrote then. A physical in 2018 found that Trump was on the verge of obesity, though, USA Today reported. In the 2019 exam, Trump was deemed to have crossed the obesity threshold; that was a “checkup supervised by his physician and involving a panel of 11 specialists,” The New York Post reported.
His doctor used superlatives in describing Trump’s health during a previous physical as president. Dr. Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, said Trump was in “excellent health,” something he attributed to “incredibly good genes, and it’s just the way God made him,” The Post reported. Jackson later found himself in controversies of his own.
Trump was the oldest president ever inaugurated.
Here are the oldest presidents at the time of their inauguration, along with their ages at the time they took office:
1. President Donald Trump: Age 70
2. Ronald Reagan: Age 69
3. William H. Harrison: Age 68
4. James Buchanan: Age 65
5. George H.W. Bush: Age 64
Here’s a list of the oldest former presidents in the history of the United States:
1. Jimmy Carter: Age 95 (born October 1, 1924)
2. George H.W. Bush: Age 94 (born June 12, 1924)
3. Gerald Ford: Age 93 years, 165 days
4. Ronald Reagan: Age 93 years, 120 days
5. John Adams: 90 years, 247 days
On average, presidents are 55 years old at the time of their inauguration in the United States, although some of the Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination of their party are older than Donald Trump.