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What we know about Parkinson's expert’s visits to Biden White House

The White House on Monday faced a round of intense questions about a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease who visited the campus several times in recent months.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was adamant during the daily press briefing about not naming the specialist, Dr. Kevin Cannard, citing privacy and security questions, even though his name was on a public log of visitors to the White House.

But questions about the president’s mental sharpness and whether he’s up to handling the job for another four years have become commonplace following his poor performance at a June 27 debate, when Biden spoke haltingly and often struggled to complete his train of thought.

Here’s what we know about the visits to the White House by Cannard.

Who is Dr. Kevin Cannard?

Cannard is a neurologist and movement disorders specialist who is based at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. 

Presidents, including Biden, typically go to Walter Reed for their annual checkups and any medical exam.

He was listed as a “Neurology Consultant to the White House Medical Unit and the Physician to the President” from 2012 to 2022, according to his Doximity profile.

Cannard is not Biden’s main physician — that is Dr. Kevin O’Connor.

How often has Cannard visited the White House?

Cannard visited the White House eight times over an eight-month span from the summer of 2023 through the spring of 2024, according to visitor logs that were first highlighted by the New York Post.

Logs show Cannard met in January with O’Connor, Biden’s White House physician, and cardiologist Dr. John Atwood in the White House residence clinic. Biden underwent his annual physical exam at Walter Reed on Feb. 28.

The New York Times reported Cannard made more than two dozen visits to the White House during the Obama administration from 2012 to 2016. It is unknown whether he visited the Trump White House because then-President Trump stopped the disclosure of visitor logs. 

What did the White House say about his visits?

The White House offered scant details about Cannard’s visits to the premises. 

Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, would not refer to him by name, despite his visits being listed in visitor logs, nor would she disclose whom the doctor was there to see or why he was meeting with Biden’s personal physician.

“Dr. O’Connor leads the medical unit,” she said, referring to Biden’s personal doctor. “We will not confirm or speak to names that you’re providing to me. It is out of security reasons, it is out of protecting someone’s privacy. We’re just not going to do that.”

She noted there are more than 1,000 military members who get care from the White House medical unit.

“I am not going to confirm a particular neurologist, anybody, it doesn’t matter if they’re a dermatologist or a neurologist, I’m just not going to do that,” she said.

What has the White House said about Biden’s health?

Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday that Biden has not been and is not being treated for Parkinson’s, and he is not taking medication to treat the disease.

She said the president had consulted with a neurologist three times during his presidency, once during each of his three physicals since taking office.

The White House over the last week — while questions over the president’s health and fitness for office have lingered since his debate performance — has frequently leaned on Biden’s February physical that found he was fit for office.

In that physical, which was made public, his doctor wrote that a neurological exam found no evidence of Parkinson’s, stroke or another condition.

More broadly, reporters have taken issue with Jean-Pierre’s evolving explanation around whether Biden met with a doctor before and after his debate on June 27, when the president had a raspy voice that aides at the time blamed on a cold. 

Biden has since said he was “feeling terrible” on the day of the debate, blaming it in part for his poor performance. 

During a Monday morning phone interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Biden dismissed a question about whether he’d been tested for any age-related illness like Parkinson’s following his halting performance on the debate stage.

“Look, I had a bad night. But the fact of the matter is, look at what I’m doing,” he said. “I mean let me put it this way, if there was something that was wrong that night, it’s not like it comes and — that’s one night and it goes away. That’s why I’ve been out. I’ve been testing myself. Been testing everywhere I go.”

Source: The Hill

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