President Donald Trump made an unscheduled visit to a hospital near Washington this weekend, and the White House’s bizarre explanation has spurred questions over the true nature of the visit.
At around 2:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, Trump went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland several months ahead of his regular scheduled exam. According to the press pool report, Trump’s movements were “strictly unreportable” until he entered the hospital.
NBC News correspondent Kelly O’Donnell tweeted a video of Trump and White House doctor Sean Conley hastily hopping into a motorcade.
POTUS health. WH says Saturday trip to hospital was “routine” & he’s “fine” despite break from past practices. Here is glimpse of Pres Trump and what appears to be WH physician Sean Conley getting into motorcade. Watch. (h/t @WinstonNBC) pic.twitter.com/8ZynFF2ytQ
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) November 17, 2019
Shortly after he entered the facility, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement saying that Trump was “taking advantage of a free weekend” to “begin portions of his routine annual physical exam” at the hospital.
The explanation raised a few eyebrows, given that routine physical exams generally aren’t split into different time blocks and the fact that Trump already had his annual exam in February.
Trump departed the hospital approximately two hours later after “a quick exam and labs,” according to an official statement at the time from Grisham, who said the President “remains healthy and energetic.”
The press secretary said Trump had “also stopped by to say hello to the medical staff” and “met with the family of a special forces soldier injured in Afghanistan.”
CNN analyst Jonathan Wackrow said that the White House’s story “does not add up.”
“The White House Medical Unit has very comprehensive facilities at the White House complex that could easily accommodate most of what is needed in an annual physical,” he tweeted. “As a [former] USSS Agent assigned POTUS, I have never seen the annual formality occur in stages.”
The White House press secretary appeared on Fox News on Saturday night to insist Trump is “as healthy as can be” and that he merely wanted a “head start” on his annual exam.
“That’s all it was,” she told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. “It’s very routine.”
Another puzzling aspect of the story: The medical staff at Walter Reed were not given advance notice of Trump’s visit as protocol dictates, according to CNN.
Grisham told CNN on Sunday, “We’re not going to get into security and movement protocols when it comes to the President, but as my statements said he’s in good health and it was a routine checkup as part of his annual physical.”
“I’ve given plenty of on the record statements that were truth and accurate,” she said. “Actively trying to find and report conspiracy theories really needs to stop.
On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that he had visited “a great family of a young man under major surgery” at the hospital.
“Also began phase one of my yearly physical,” he added. “Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.”
Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery at the amazing Walter Reed Medical Center. Those are truly some of the best doctors anywhere in the world. Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2019
The White House did not release any information as to which specific types of exams and lab tests Trump had undergone on Saturday, or what the results were.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical correspondent, pointed out on Monday morning that a hospital visit wouldn’t have been necessary for Trump if he were merely taking routine lab tests.
“The tests that they talked about, these basic labs and things like that…I visited the White House medical unit in the White House itself, and they can do most of these things there,” said Gupta. “So why did he need to go to the hospital? What was specifically happening there that they couldn’t do at the White House?”
After Trump’s exam on February 8 this year, Dr. Sean Conley announced the President was “in very good health.”
However, the hard numbers in White House’s report showed that Trump, a voracious consumer of McDonald’s cheeseburgers, had gained four pounds since his exam in 2018, making him clinically obese at 243 pounds with a height of 6’3”.