Latest News 11-07-2024 19:01 6 Views

Biden’s doc not talking as White House spurns press corps requests

For years, the White House has brushed off repeated requests from the media to hear directly from President Biden’s White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor. This posture continues even with a mounting number of traditional Democratic allies calling on the president to bow out of the 2024 race over serious concerns over his mental acuity and age. 

Concerns surrounding Biden’s health and mental fitness are at a fever pitch this summer, as Democrats call on him to quit the presidential race following his disastrous debate against former President Trump last month. Biden has bucked calls to drop out, vowing to remain in the race as his campaign and White House ramp up his number of public events in an apparent effort to quell concerns the president isn’t up for another four-year term in the Oval Office. 

Biden’s demeanor during the debate – which included him losing his train of thought, stumbling over his words, and delivering responses with a raspy voice and subdued tenor – was just the most recent example of concerning behavior from the president, following repeated gaffes and miscues during public events since 2021. As concerns mount surrounding Biden’s health, the media has called on the administration to make the president’s White House physician available for questions. 

'Given the fact that it’s more than a bad night when his political future is threatened, would he be willing to provide more medical information? Would he be willing to have Dr. O’Connor provide more to answer these questions?' a reporter asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last week. 

'What we have provided has been very transparent,' Jean-Pierre responded. 

This week, as Jean-Pierre discussed a Parkinson’s disease expert’s repeated visits to the White House in the last year, another reporter asked: 'So can [Dr. O’Connor] tell us?'

Jean-Pierre shot down that specific request, arguing O'Connor 'will not confirm' details surrounding the Parkinson's expert's visit. O'Connor released a letter that same day clearing up and confirming that the Parkinson's expert visited the White House as part of the president's annual physical, and that other trips to the White House were unrelated to Biden's health. There were no signs of neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, ascending lateral sclerosis, stroke or cervical myelopathy, found during Biden's physical in February, O'Connor said. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House about any plans to host O’Connor during a press conference, and why he has not yet joined the media to discuss ongoing concerns on Biden’s health. The White House brushed off a potential O’Connor press conference, saying the physician's public and detailed reports on the president’s health since 2021 are sufficient. 

'The thorough summaries Dr. O’Connor puts online for the public are far more extensive than the presidential medical documentation released during the previous administration,' White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. 'In fact, the American people heard from Dr. O’Connor through his daily written reports on President Biden’s COVID case for over two weeks straight – a condition he had the honesty to disclose right away, unlike Trump’s physicians in office. 

'Dr. O’Connor teaches at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science, completed U.S. Army flight surgeon training, and was among the first American service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. His unique expertise is sought across the medical community, in which he is respected for his candor, attention to detail, and work ethic,' he continued.   

O’Connor has released repeated statements and updates on the president’s health since Biden was sworn in as the president, including when he was diagnosed with COVID, as well as updates on Biden’s annual physicals. 

Fox News Digital reviewed previous White House press briefings from across the Biden administration and found reporters have repeatedly asked to hear directly from the president’s doctor, going back to at least 2022, when Biden was diagnosed with COVID.

'I understand there’s been questions about Dr. O’Connor, but does the White House plan on making him available for questions, making him available to the public at any point?' a reporter asked Jean-Pierre on July 22, 2022. 

'We feel that Dr. O’Connor’s statements and his detailed report – again, on a – on a – on a situation as the – as the doctor just said, is mild – very mild.  And he’s able to continue to do his work – is enough,' she responded. 

Earlier this year, Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report investigating Biden's handling of classified documents after his departure as vice president under the Obama administration further compounded concern over the president’s mental acuity. 

Hur announced in February that he would not recommend criminal charges against the president for possessing classified materials, calling Biden 'a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.'

'Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone from whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him – by then a former president well into his eighties – of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness,' Hur wrote in his report. 

The findings sparked widespread outrage that Biden was effectively deemed too cognitively impaired to be charged with a crime yet could still serve as president.

Again, the media asked the White House to hear from the president’s doctor following the report’s findings. 

'When can we talk to the president’s doctor? And how come he hasn’t been – they haven’t been asked to come out here and talk with us, given the Hur report that challenges the president’s mental fitness?' another reporter asked Jean-Pierre on Feb. 12 of this year. 

'So, look, you know, just to speak to the Hur report really, really quickly. Special Counsel Hur is – as far as I remember, is a – is a – obviously, a R- – a Republican, a – a prosecutor.  He’s not a – he’s not a medical doctor. He’s just not. It’s not for him to speak to. It’s just not,' Jean-Pierre responded. 

She was pressed again that day: 'But can we talk to his doctor, then?'

'Well, look, I have said the pres- – the medical doctor, the president’s doctor is going to do a physical. He’s going to – and he has always put forth, in the last two years, a detailed – detailed memo on the president’s – on the president’s, obviously, medical physical,' she said. 

'And so, I’m just going to leave it there. I don’t have anything else to add.'

O’Connor was first appointed to the White House Medical Unit in 2006 for what was intended to be a three-year military assignment, according to his profile published by the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, from which he graduated in 1992. Instead, Biden requested O’Connor stay on as his physician in 2009, ultimately serving as his doctor when Biden was vice president, before serving as Biden's doctor again when he was sworn in as president. 

O’Connor has a cozy relationship with the Biden family, Fox Digital previously reported, with the president’s sister-in-law describing him as a 'friend' in 2018, media reports showing he allegedly had a business relationship with Biden’s younger brother Jim Biden, and the president repeatedly mentioning him in his 2017 memoir 'Promise Me, Dad,' most notably in relation to Beau Biden’s brain cancer diagnosis. 

'‘Seriously, Doc. No matter what happens. Take care of Pop. For real. Promise me. For real,’' Beau Biden said to O’Connor before his death, according to the president's memoir. 

The media’s request to hear directly from the president’s doctor isn’t unprecedented, as both of former President Trump’s White House physicians, Dr. Sean Conley and Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson, delivered press conferences. Conley spoke to the media when Trump was diagnosed with COVID in 2020, while Jackson addressed the media in 2018 to tout the then-president’s 'good genes' and how he passed a cognitive test. 

When asked about the Trump doctors speaking to the media and not Biden’s doctor, the White House told Fox News Digital that the media hearing from a White House physician is 'unusual.' 

'Historically, it is unusual for White House physicians to come to the Briefing Room unless a major medical event occurs. We do not look to an abusive, discredited, ultra-partisan or a doctor who concealed Trump’s COVID case from the nation as role models,' Bates told Fox Digital. 

Following Biden’s disastrous debate, the president has engaged in a media, public event and campaign blitz, including hosting NATO leaders in Washington, D.C., this week, when the president delivered a strong speech commemorating NATO’s 75th anniversary. Praise from Democrats for the speech, however, was few and far between, with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying in an interview the following day that Democrats are keeping their thoughts on Biden quiet 'until we see how we go this week.'

Biden is slated to hold a highly-anticipated press conference at 6:30 pm Thursday, dubbed his 'big boy press conference' by the media, where he will take questions solo from the press. 


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