President Donald Trump posted a baffling tweet Tuesday declaring that he has not had a series of "mini-strokes" — and he had the White House physician release a statement backing up his claim.
"It never ends! Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes. Never happened to THIS candidate - FAKE NEWS," Trump tweeted.
The tweet was followed hours later by a statement from White House physician Sean Conley, who said he was speaking out at Trump's request. "I can confirm that President Trump has not experienced nor been evaluated for a cerebrovascular accident (stroke), transient ischemic attack (mini stroke), or any acute cardiovascular emergencies, as have been incorrectly reported in the media," Conley said.
No major media outlet appears to have reported in recent days that Trump had a series of mini-strokes.
A White House aide said Trump was referring to a tweet from former President Bill Clinton's former press secretary Joe Lockhart, who asked in a tweet Monday whether Trump had had "a stroke which he is hiding from the American public." Lockhart did not mention "mini-strokes."
Lockhart tweeted that his question was sparked by a new account of Trump's mysterious visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November in a book that went on sale Tuesday.
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In his book, "Donald Trump vs. the United States," New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt reported, "In the hours leading up to Trump's trip to the hospital, word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized."
Vice President Mike Pence never assumed those powers, and Schmidt's book did not speculate about the nature of the visit. The book "says nothing about mini-strokes," Schmidt tweeted Tuesday.
Asked by Fox News later Tuesday about the book's account, Pence said there was "nothing out of the ordinary about that moment or that day."
Pressed about whether he had been put on standby, Pence said: "I don't recall being told to be on standby. I was informed that the president had a doctor's appointment."
On Tuesday night, Trump retweeted a CNN story that about the book's claim about Pence being put on standby and wrote, "Mike Pence was never put on standby, & there were no mini-strokes. This is just more Fake News by @CNN, a phony story. The reason for the visit to Walter Reed, together with the full press pool, was to complete my yearly physical. Short visit, then returned (with press) to W.H..."
Trump's visit to Walter Reed last year was unannounced and remained shrouded in secrecy for two days as the president remained out of public view.
The White House later said the visit was routine, and Trump said it was "phase one of my yearly physical." Conley said in June that Trump had completed his physical in April and reported that he "remains healthy."
Ronny Jackson, who was chief medical adviser to the president at the time of the visit and is now running for Congress, tweeted a video clip Tuesday saying that a report about Trump having a heart attack or stroke is "the most ridiculous I've ever heard."
Jackson wrote in the tweet that the "lies" about Trump's health are "disgusting."
"Here's the truth: As the President's doctor, I knew about this trip WEEKS in advance & it had NOTHING to do with his brain or heart," he wrote, adding that CNN "is using this as a distraction to cover for the cognitively compromised Joe Biden."
There is no evidence to suggest that Biden's cognitive abilities are compromised.