News of Trump going to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday sparked a flurry of speculation and rumors that has continued despite the White House and the president himself playing down the impromptu visit over the weekend. Late Monday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham attempted to quell concerns by releasing a memo from Trump’s doctor, Sean P. Conley, who stressed that the president had not been experiencing “urgent or acute issues,” and noted that the trip was a “routine, planned interim checkup as part of regular, primary preventative care.”
But the official memo, which was shared shortly before 10 p.m. Monday, did little to silence the various theories about the 73-year-old’s health. Instead, it only fueled more biting commentary as many accused the White House of again trying to obscure the president’s medical information, likening the memo to recent statements that have touted Trump’s physical condition and offered confusing explanations for the hospital visit.
“If something was horribly wrong with Trump, the White House would just pretend like everything was normal,” Noah said Monday night. “Trump could come back with both arms amputated and his press secretary would come out like: ‘This was just a standard checkup. The president’s arms have always been brooms. He uses them to clean up Washington, D.C.’ ”
Noah’s skepticism was echoed across late-night television on Monday as fellow comics joined him in mocking the official explanation for Trump’s weekend visit. On Saturday, Grisham told Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro that Trump had wanted to take advantage of a “down day” and “get a head start with some routine checkups as part of his annual exam,” stressing that the president is “healthy as can be.” Trump later tweeted that he “began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.”
“Next year?” an incredulous Jimmy Kimmel asked on his ABC show. “Was this a physical or a kitchen remodel?”
Meanwhile on CBS, Stephen Colbert was already looking forward to the next installment of the checkup.
“Yes, Trump’s first part of his physical’s going to be such a hit that next year they’re coming out with a sequel,” Colbert joked. “‘Colonoscopy 2: 2 Blocked 2 Scope.’”
Grisham’s comments also didn’t go unnoticed by the late-night hosts.
After playing a clip of the press secretary explaining what Trump chose to do on his rare free weekend, Colbert remarked, “Okay, that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard."
“Let’s see, I got the day off,” the host said, impersonating Trump. “I could spend it with my children — not really my thing. With my wife — no, she hates me. My friends — all in jail. Tell you what, I’ll just go to the hospital. Stick me with needles just to feel something.”
Both Colbert and Kimmel pushed back against Grisham’s glowing assessment of Trump’s health. During her Fox News appearance, Grisham crowed that Trump has “more energy than anybody in the White House,” prompting Pirro to respond, “He’s almost superhuman.”
“He is a 73-year-old insomniac who eats nothing but fast food and who is afraid to go down stairs,” Colbert said.
Kimmel was equally dubious.
“Right, he’s faster than a tweeting bullet,” the ABC host said. “He’s able to bankrupt tall buildings in a single bound.”
Back on Comedy Central, Noah only had more questions about the secretive doctor’s visit.
“Did Trump have a heart problem or a stroke?” Noah asked. “And if he did have a stroke, how would you even be able to tell?”
The host quickly answered himself.
“No, because the symptoms of a stroke are slurred speech, confusion and erratic behavior,” he said. “For Trump, that’s a Tuesday.”
But while Noah had just been joking about the possibility of Trump having a stroke, David Scheiner, who used to treat President Barack Obama, told CNN’s Erin Burnett the danger of that happening may be more likely than people think.
“His inability to say words sometimes worries me tremendously,” Scheiner said of Trump on Monday. “He is having trouble word-finding. These aren’t slips of the tongue.”
Scheiner added that the “peculiar” symptom may point to a “neurological issue that is not being addressed.”
“The worry that I have is that maybe he’s having small strokes,” the physician said.
From @OutfrontCNN: Dr. David Scheiner, Obama's former doctor, says Trump's "inability to say words sometimes worries me tremendously. He is having trouble word-finding... Comedians joke about it, but it's not a joking matter." pic.twitter.com/OlsjEWxV1e— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 19, 2019
In Monday night’s memo, Conley, Trump’s doctor, made a point to note that the president “did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations,” denying “speculation” that there had been a medical emergency.
Many remained unconvinced.
“ 'Routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care’ really seems like they’re trying too hard,” one person tweeted.
Another described the document as a “really weird, defensive statement.”
“The first sentence alone has roughly four synonyms for ‘routine,’” the Twitter user wrote. “It then tells us all the medical problems Trump is definitely not having. It’s a good thing this White House has developed a reputation for honesty and transparency.”
“Ever since Trump came down with a bad case of bone spurs during the Vietnam War, he’s managed to get his physicians to lie for him,” the person wrote. “Who knows if any of this is true.”