WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s impromptu weekend visit to a doctor prompted renewed questions about the status of his health after the White House released a memo late Monday denying “speculation” that he had been treated for a medical emergency.
Trump, 73, made an unscheduled trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday, a visit that remained shrouded in secrecy for two days as Trump stayed away from the public eye and the White House dodged questions about his health.
In a memo released by the White House late Monday, Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, wrote that Trump’s “interim checkup” over the weekend had been “routine,” and was only kept secret because of “scheduling uncertainties.”
“Despite some speculation, the President has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues,” Conley wrote in the memo. “Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.”
While Trump claimed that he had begun “phase one” of his annual physical, Conley said Trump would have a “more comprehensive examination” next year. While Trump described his condition on Twitter as “very good (great!),” Conley’s memo did not characterize the president’s overall health. It did include cholesterol figures that had reduced since Trump’s last physical exam in February.
It is unusual for a president to do a physical exam in multiple stages months apart, and the circumstances surrounding Trump’s visit renewed questions about the White House’s handling of his medical information, according to several experts.
On Monday, he remained out of public view, holding his meetings behind closed doors. He met with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell inside the White House residence rather than the Oval Office, according to a White House official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
The White House medical unit has the ability to perform many medical procedures on-site, including most that can be done in outpatient settings, said Jennifer Peña, a doctor who served as Vice President Mike Pence’s physician until May 2018.
“The most informative question to ask about the current situation is: What is available at Walter Reed that is not available in the West Wing medical unit?” said John Sotos, a cardiologist who has studied the health records of previous presidents.
Several medical experts have questioned why Trump would begin his annual physical in November, just nine months after his last exam, and not complete it until 2020. Leaving a monthslong gap between beginning and completing the exam is unusual and potentially counterproductive, said Sotos.
“When they complete the physical in six months, the information they got on Saturday would be six months old,” he said. “I haven’t seen such a thing by presidents in the recent past.”
There are other reasons Trump’s visit to Walter Reed was out of the ordinary.
During Trump’s previous medical examinations, the White House has announced the visit in advance and the president has taken the presidential helicopter, Marine One. On Saturday, Trump’s visit was not announced beforehand and the president used a motorcade, which is equipped with an ambulance.
Trump had his first physical as president at Walter Reed in January 2018. His second was in February 2019. Trump’s doctors hailed his health as “excellent” and “very good” after those exams.