President Donald Trump is setting the record straight about his November 2019 visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. After unfounded rumors surfaced suggesting that Trump may have suffered a stroke, leading to the unannounced visit to the medical facility, the president on Tuesday denied the claims, stating that they were "FAKE NEWS" and suggesting that the rumors could instead be about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
It never ends! Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes. Never happened to THIS candidate - FAKE NEWS. Perhaps they are referring to another candidate from another Party!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2020
The president's remarks came after concern over the president's visit was renewed when CNN published excerpts from New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt's upcoming book. In that book, Schmidt alleges that Trump's visit was much more serious than an annual physical, as it had been dubbed by the White House. Without specifying his sources, Schmidt wrote that he learned "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."
Shortly after that excerpt was released, speculation ran rampant. On Monday, after the president appeared to stumble over his words during an address, former Bill Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart floated the theory that the president was covering up a stroke, writing, "Did [Donald Trump] have a stroke which he is hiding from the American public?" That theory had been first floated on Aug. 1 by crime author Don Winslow, who claimed he had heard from a "whistleblower" that "during his term Trump has suffered a 'series' of 'mini-strokes.'" Following the release of Schmidt's excerpt, some piggybacked off that theory, with Forbes reporting that the book mentioned a separate hospitalization for a "cerebral event." Schmidt has denied those reports.
The book says nothing about a “cerebral event.” It just says that Pence was on standby if they needed to anesthetize Trump for a procedure.— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) August 31, 2020
While Trump's visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was concerning in and of itself, what did spark concern was the fact that it had been unannounced. Although a number of theories were posed after reports of the visits surfaced, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham at the time explained that the president underwent a "quick exam and labs" as part of his annual physical exam preparing for "a very busy 2020." Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, later said that the "visit was part of "a routine, planned interim checkup."