July 13, 2024

Biden administration silent on Parkinson’s expert’s White House visits

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Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has declined to elaborate on reports that an expert on Parkinson’s disease visited the White House eight times over the last year, citing privacy concerns, as President Joe Biden’s age and health have been in the spotlight following last month’s debate.

At the same time, Jean-Pierre stressed to reporters at Monday’s press briefing that Biden was not being treated for the disease. 

“Has the president been treated for Parkinson’s? No. Is he being treated for Parkinson’s? No, he’s not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson’s? No,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “Those are the things that I can give you full-blown answers on but I am not going to confirm a specialist – any specialist – that comes to the White House out of privacy.”

White House visitor logs, which keeps track of those who enter the campus for appointments or business and is posted online for the public to see, show a person named Kevin Cannard visited the residence clinic at the White House eight times between July 2023 and March 2024.

Multiple media outlets identified Cannard as a neurologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Biden receives his annual physicals.  

One of Cannard’s visits to the White House campus was to meet with Biden’s personal physician Kevin O’Connor. The New York Times first reported the record of Cannard’s eight visits in the logs and the New York Post first reported the record of the meeting with O’Connor. 

Jean-Pierre on Monday repeatedly told reporters she could not speak to the purpose of the visits or confirm any names, despite Cannard’s name being listed in the logs for the public to see. 

“The medical unit hosts a wide range of specialists, from dermatologists to neurologists, so I cannot speak to every person because there is actually security reasons to protect their privacy,” she said. 

She noted that “thousands of military personnel” come on campus and many receive care from the White House medical unit. 

Biden, Jean-Pierre also stressed, has seen a neurologist three times during his presidency – each time aligning with his regular yearly physical. His most recent one was in February 2024, she added. 

It all comes as Biden’s team faces mounting questions over his place as the Democratic party’s best option to beat former President Donald Trump in November in the wake of the president’s disappointing debate performance last month in Atlanta, which sparked fresh questions about his age and mental fitness. 

Earlier on Monday, during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Biden reiterated that he did not feel he needed to take an additional independent neurological or cognitive test and release the full results to the public because he has such a test “every day” while serving as president.

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