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Biden’s doctor reportedly met with top neurologist at White House

Parkinson’s expert at Walter Reed Medical Center has visited White House eight times since August 2023 – report

Joe Biden’s doctor met with a leading Washington neurologist at the White House this year, it was reported on Saturday.Biden’s doctor reportedly met with top neurologist at White House

The report came after Biden on Friday ruled out taking an independent cognitive test and releasing its findings publicly, in an interview with ABC News arranged following his disastrous performance in last week’s presidential TV debate with Donald Trump.

According White House visitor logs reviewed by the New York Post, Dr Kevin Cannard, a Parkinson’s disease expert at Walter Reed medical center, met with Dr Kevin O’Connor, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who has treated the president for years.

The visit took place at the White House residence clinic on 17 January. Cannard has visited the White House house eight times since August 2023. On seven of those visits, most recently in late March, he met with Megan Nasworthy, a liaison between Walter Reed and the White House.

Biden has consistently rejected taking any cognitive test, including in August 2020 when he dismissed a reporter’s question with: “Why the hell would I take a test?” He has continued to dismiss the need for one and, according to aides, has not received one during his three annual physical exams during his term in the White House.

The Washington Post on Saturday reported a White House aide saying that O’Connor, who has been Biden’s doctor since 2009, has never recommended that Biden take a cognitive test.

O’Connor has said that his most important job is to offer Biden an affirmative “Good morning, Mr President” – to get Biden off the on the right track each day.

During Biden’s ABC News interview on Friday, the anchor George Stephanopoulos, who was communications director in the Clinton White House, asked Biden if had taken specific tests for cognitive capability. “No one said I had to … they said I’m good,” Biden replied.

Later in the broadcast, Biden was asked if he would do an independent neurological and cognitive exam and release the results. “I get a cognitive test every day,” Biden said. “Everything I do – you know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world.”

Pressed on the issue, he said: “I’ve already done it.”

Questions about Biden’s mental state continued on Saturday when the two radio hosts who interviewed him briefly on Thursday said that the Biden campaign had given them a list of approved questions. Wisconsin radio host Earl Ingram said that Biden aides had sent him a list of four questions in advance, about which there was no negotiation.

“They gave me the exact questions to ask,” Ingram told the Associated Press. “There was no back and forth.”

Philadelphia civic radio host Andrea Lawful-Sanders told CNN she had received a list of eight questions, from which she approved four. Both interviews had been scheduled to restore Biden’s credibility following his meandering debate performance with Donald Trump a week earlier.

Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said it is “not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees” and that acceptance of the questions was not a prerequisite for an interview to go ahead. However, both interviews had been structured for Biden to tout his achievements for Black voters.

On Saturday, Trump sarcastically called on Biden to “ignore his many critics and move forward, with alacrity and strength, with his powerful and far reaching campaign”. Last week, Trump’s campaign pre-emptively launched attack ads against vice-president Kamala Harris, who is polling better in a Trump match-up than the president.

Earlier this year, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, defended O’Connor’s decision not to administer a cognitive test when the issue came up following a report by the special counsel Robert Hur into classified documents found at Biden’s Delaware home that concluded Biden was a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory”.

At that time, as now, the White House pushed back, accusing Hur of being part of a partisan smear campaign. “I’m well-meaning, and I’m elderly, and I know what I’m doing,” Biden said at a news conference. “My memory is fine.”

But the eight visits Kevin Cannard has made to the White House over the past 11 months are certain to raise further questions about the 81-year-old president’s mental abilities in the wake of his debate with Donald Trump and subsequent verbal mistakes, including during a radio interview on Thursday when he said he was “proud” to be the “first Black woman to serve with a Black president”.

Cannard has served as the “neurology specialist supporting the White House medical unit” since 2012 and published academic papers including one last year in the Parkinsonism & Related Disorders journal that focused on the “early stage” of the brain degenerative disorder.

Ronny Jackson, a Republican congressman in Texas who was White House doctor for Barack Obama and Trump, has previously called for Biden to undergo a cognitive exam and accused O’Connor and Biden’s family of trying to “cover up” problems with Biden’s mental abilities.

Jackson told the New York Post he believed that O’Connor and Biden “have led the cover up”.

“Kevin O’Connor is like a son to Jill Biden – she loves him,” Jackson continued, adding that ‘they knew they could trust Kevin to say and do anything that needed to be said or done”.

Last week, the White House initially denied but later confirmed that Biden had seen a doctor since the debate. It has said that the president’s performance was affected, variously, by a cold, over-preparation and jet-lag. Biden has said simply: “I screwed up.”

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