On Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted out a denial that he suffered a series of “mini-strokes” that resulted in him seeking medical attention at a hospital last year. No major outlets have reported that Trump experienced any “mini-strokes,” but a White House spokesperson said Trump was responding to a tweet by CNN contributor Joe Lockhart that speculated about a stroke Trump may have hidden from the public. However, Lockhart made no mention of the “mini-strokes” Trump referred to.
The president tweeted Tuesday morning, calling the supposed allegations that he suffered “mini-strokes” that sent him to Walter Reed Medical Center in 2019 “fake news.”
Trump was abruptly rushed to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 16, last year, although the White House later said that the trip to the hospital was “routine.” Then-Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump was simply being proactive about his health in the wake of the impending election season. However, this assertion was met with skepticism in part because the medical staff at the hospital were not made aware of Trump’s arrival beforehand, and because the visit was not on the president’s schedule.
Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, said at the time that the visit was an “interim check-up,” that would be followed up with another exam in 2020. Some doctors pointed out that it did not make sense to wait to complete a medical exam that was started months prior.
Dr. Conley also confirmed at the president’s request that Trump had not experienced any “mini-strokes” in November.
A White House aide told NBC News that Trump was responding to a tweet by Bill Clinton’s former Press Secretary Joe Lockhart in which he speculated the president was hiding a stroke from the public.
There is precedent in White House history for an administration to conceal a president’s stroke. A century ago, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a series of strokes during his second term, culminating in a severe stroke in late 1919 that left him partially paralyzed. The severity of his illness was hidden from Congress and the public, although news of his condition eventually began to be reported. Although incapacitated, he remained an active president through the end of his term and messages were relayed through his wife
The controversy around Trump’s health comes after the release of New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt’s new book “Donald Trump vs. the United States.” In the book, Schmidt writes of Trump’s November trip to Walter Reed Hospital: “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.”
Neither Lockhart nor Schmidt made any reference to the “mini-strokes” Trump denied.
Rumors also swirled about Trump’s health after he delivered remarks at the 2020 West Point graduation in 2020. During the ceremony, the president seemed to struggle to drink a glass of water while standing at the podium until he used two hands to hold up the glass. Later, he appeared unsteady on his feet while exiting the stage by way of a ramp.
He explained away his unsteadiness, tweeting that the ramp was narrow and slippery.
In July, Trump bragged that he successfully passed a dementia test by repeating five words. “The last questions are much more difficult. Like a memory question. You’ll go ‘person, woman, man, camera, TV.’ So they say — ‘can you repeat that?’ … For me it was easy,” he said.