Since entering politics, the president hasn’t been all that transparent about his physical health. In 2015, Trump released a letter from his physician claiming that his blood pressure was “astonishingly excellent” and that he would “unequivocally” be the healthiest president ever elected. Unsurprisingly, his doctor later claimed that “he dictated that whole letter.” In February, the White House sat on Trump’s physical results for six days, releasing the information that he was clinically obese shortly after declaring a national emergency.
On Saturday afternoon, Trump’s tendency to downplay his personal health reached the most concerning moment of his presidency, when he went to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, for a surprise medical exam. According to the White House, Trump visited the hospital for a “quick exam and labs” — “phase one of my yearly physical,” as the president later called his two-hour visit. But unlike his prior two physicals in office, which were completed in one sitting, the Saturday visit was not listed on the president’s public schedule. According to CNN, hospital staff were not aware that Trump was swinging through: “Typically, Walter Reed’s medical staff would get a general notice about a ‘VIP’ visit to the medical center ahead of a presidential visit, notifying them of certain closures at the facility. That did not happen this time, indicating the visit was a non-routine visit and scheduled last minute.”
The timing and the setting of the visit also raised concerns. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed that Trump had the surprise exam and labs because he had a “free weekend,” though he is not due for a physical until February. (He’s also played golf on weekends 54 days this year, suggesting that his free time might not be such a scarcity.) Former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow expressed his concern over the location of the checkup as well:
Official statements from the White House and sources who spoke to CNN have both indicated that the president’s health is sound. But as Brian Stelter noted on Reliable Sources, the administration’s tricky relationship with the truth has dented its credibility:
Hopefully all is well. But the White House squandered much of its credibility at the very beginning of Trump’s tenure and hasn’t regained it by any stretch. So we can’t cover these stories like it’s business as usual. This is not business as usual. This is an administration that makes up crowds and draws squiggly lines on maps and tells you not to believe your own eyes and ears.
If the president’s Sunday behavior was any indication, all is well: Trump spent the day online, tweeting over 40 times about “sleepy” and “very slow” Joe Biden, “corrupt” Adam Schiff, and the “nasty & obnoxious Chris Wallace.”