President Joe Biden saw neurologist at White House for Jan. 17 exam, press secretary says

WASHINGTON — (AP) — President Joe Biden saw a neurologist at the White House on Jan. 17 for a neurological exam, the results of which were later reported as part of his annual physical more than a month later, the White House said on Tuesday.

The confirmation came after the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre inaccurately said during the daily briefing with reporters that the Jan. 17 meeting was not related to care for the president in response to a question from the Associated Press.

The AP had asked whether a meeting, which was reported through the White House visitors’ logs, between renowned neurological expert Dr. Kevin Cannard and Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s personal doctor, was about the president himself. It was the only meeting between those two men, according to the logs, that had been reported between July 2023 and this past March — a period that has come under scrutiny because Cannard had visited the White House eight times in that time frame.

“Because the date was not mentioned in the question, I want to be clear that the Jan. 17 meeting between Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Cannard was for the President’s physical,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement to the AP on Tuesday. “It was one of the three times the President has seen Dr. Cannard, each time for his physical. The findings from each exam have been released to the public.”

That statement is not the first time in the days following Biden's debate debacle – which triggered a new round of concerns about the 81-year-old president's fitness to serve — that the White House has had to later clarify answers to questions about the president's health.

Last week, Jean-Pierre said Biden “did not get checked out by the doctor” for a cold that was noticeable during the June 27 debate. But Biden later said in a private meeting with Democratic governors that he had been checked out by his doctor after the debate concluded. Jean-Pierre said she meant Biden did not get a full medical exam and that the president did indeed have a “check-in” with his doctor, which he does a couple of times a week.

And, on Monday night, the White House released a statement from O’Connor describing the nature of Cannard’s visits to the White House after Jean-Pierre earlier in the day declined to confirm the name of the doctor or say why he was going to the White House. It also confirmed that Cannard had been the neurologist who had examined Biden in his three physicals during his presidency. Jean-Pierre contended Tuesday that “a lot of the things I said right here in this briefing room” were later restated in the letter from O’Connor Monday night.

Still, Jean-Pierre said this week that she and other White House press aides are doing “our best in this briefing to provide the information that we have.”

“I will be the first one to admit: Sometimes I get it wrong. At least I admit that,” she said. “And sometimes I don’t have the information. And I will always, always admit that.”

Jean-Pierre’s clarification also shows how parts of the president’s annual physical, which is generally conducted at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, can be performed over a longer period rather than just the one day at the suburban Maryland hospital.

When O’Connor released the results of Biden’s physical on Feb. 28, he wrote that “an extremely detailed neurological exam was again reassuring in that there were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis, nor are there any signs of cervical myelopathy.” The letter had not stated when the neurological exam had been conducted, or where it took place.

The repeated presence of Cannard in the White House visitors logs also attracted attention because of the doctor’s expertise in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. But Jean-Pierre definitively said this week that Biden has not been treated for Parkinson’s disease, nor is he being treated currently or taking medication for it.

Cannard has been the neurology consultant to the White House medical unit for a dozen years. O’Connor also said in a letter released Monday night that Cannard has held regular neurology clinics at the White House “in support of the thousands of active-duty members assigned in support of White House operations.”

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