Pence Was ‘On Standby’ To Assume Presidential Powers Amid Unscheduled Trump Hospital Visit Last Year

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a conference. (Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
September 1, 2020 9:02 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence was reportedly alerted that he may have to temporarily take over presidential powers during President Donald Trump’s unexpected visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center late last year.

New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt reveals in a copy of his forthcoming book obtained by CNN, that the Vice President was privately put on “standby” to assume presidential powers in spite of the White House claiming otherwise in public.

The White House stated at the time that the President was “fine” and that Trump’s November 2019 visit to the Maryland hospital would simply include a series of “quick exam and labs” ahead of a “very busy 2020.” 

But according to CNN, the Times reporter reveals a far more alarmed response in the West Wing amid the sudden hospital trip. In his upcoming book Schmidt reports that “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.” 

A CNN source said at the time that Trump’s visit did not follow the protocol of a routine presidential medical exam, adding that medical staff at Walter Reed had notified via staff-wide memo of a presidential visit — an indication the unplanned visit was not routine.

While the source acknowledged it was possible that a small group of doctors involved had been informed ahead of time of Trump’s visit, it was atypical that not all medical staff had been alerted in the case of the allegedly routine exam.

While Pence did not ultimately take the reins at the time, Schmidt writes that incident raises further scrutiny about why Trump made the unscheduled visit.

President Trump’s physician weighed in on the matter

The President appeared to refer to a suggestion unrelated to Schmidt’s book that he had suffered from stroke, denying the claims surrounding his Walter Reed visit as “fake news” in a tweet Tuesday morning.

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the President, weighed in on the matter Tuesday afternoon, issuing a statement that said contrary to some reports, Trump had not been evaluated for stroke, mini stroke or any acute cardiovascular emergencies.

“The President remains health and I have no concerns about his ability to maintain the rigorous schedule ahead of him. As stated in my last report, I expect him to remain fit to execute the duties of the Presidency,” Conley wrote.


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