White House Press Secretary Dodges Questions on Biden's Doctor Meeting With Parkinson's Specialist

 July 8, 2024

Amid heightened media scrutiny, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced a barrage of questions during a tense briefing about the eight visits Dr. Kevin Cannard, a Parkinson’s disease specialist from Walter Reed, made to the White House over eight months.

The New York Post reported that Jean-Pierre cited “security reasons” for the refusal to discuss these visits, despite the surrounding controversy being fueled by President Joe Biden’s recent public appearances where his cognitive abilities were questioned.

Dr. Cannard, who has specialized in neurology since 1998, primarily focuses on Parkinson’s disease.

His regular presence at the White House from July 2023 through March 2024 has sparked widespread speculation and concern, particularly after President Biden's challenged performance during a debate on June 27, which was termed "disastrous."

Detailed Timeline of Events and Visits

Cannard's involvement with the White House reportedly includes multiple early morning meetings with Megan Nasworthy, who coordinates primary care for the president and his family. These meetings have been confirmed through visitor logs made public.

Notably, a special gathering was recorded on January 17, involving Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the physician to the president, and Dr. John E. Atwood, a cardiologist, indicating a significant consultation at a high level.

Despite the ongoing concerns over President Biden’s health following his February physical, which declared no signs of Parkinson's disease, the administration has been tight-lipped. Jean-Pierre emphasized during the press briefing that Biden has only officially met with a neurologist three times during his presidency, all during scheduled annual exams.

During the press conference, exchanges between Jean-Pierre and reporters grew heated. CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe and NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell pointedly noted that the explanation of security reasons seemed inconsistent given the public nature of the logs.

Jean-Pierre reiterated her stance, refusing to confirm specifics about the visits, leading to accusations from reporters that the White House was allowing unnecessary speculation to fester by not providing clear answers.

Broader Context of the Discussion

Jean-Pierre also accused the press of engaging in “personal attacks” which she stressed was unacceptable.

The tense interactions reflect broader concerns regarding transparency and public understanding of the president’s health, especially as the oldest-ever sitting president faces another election against former President Donald Trump.

Andrew Bates, another White House spokesperson, confirmed the routine nature of specialists from Walter Reed visiting the White House. Still, he reiterated the confidentiality of specific details regarding such visits. These statements come amidst calls from some House Democrats for Biden to withdraw from the race following the June debate debacle.

It should be noted that though there is intense focus on Dr. Cannard’s visits, the White House maintains that no findings from Biden's physical exams have indicated any serious neurological problems.

The administration has been firm in stating that Biden does not require a cognitive test, as confirmed by his medical team.

Summary and Moving Forward

As the situation unfolds, the refusal to disclose detailed reasons behind Dr. Cannard’s frequent consultations at the White House continues to be a focal point of discussion.

The implications for President Biden’s public perception and the administration's approach to handling sensitive health information remain critical areas of concern as the 2024 presidential election approaches.

In conclusion, while the White House asserts the confidentiality and routine nature of such medical consultations, the lack of detailed disclosures has led to public and media unrest, requiring a delicate balance between privacy and the need for transparency in public health matters involving national leaders.

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