Jackson, who won a Texas congressional race last year as a Republican, and 13 other GOP lawmakers on Thursday signed a letter claiming that Biden has shown signs of a poor mental state and should take the test to prove otherwise.
“The American people deserve to have absolute confidence in their President,” said Jackson, who was found to have made inappropriate sexual remarks and bullied staff as White House physician, in a news release. “… I would argue that the American people don’t have that confidence in President Biden.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Biden, the oldest president in history, is due to have a physical later this year and pledged to fully release the results — something Trump was accused of not doing.
Doctors last year who reviewed Biden’s medical history and current state said he was in good health. Stuart Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago who analyzes the longevity of presidents, told The Washington Post that Biden’s health and family history suggest a life expectancy of about 97.
“You can’t sugarcoat aging. Once you get up to that age, changes do occur more rapidly than when you’re younger,” Olshansky said. “But with Biden, not only are there not warning signs, the signs that you see show he’s in exceptional health.”
Jackson, a former Navy admiral, began working as a White House physician in the mid-2000s. In 2013, President Barack Obama named him as his top physician, and Jackson remained largely nonpartisan in the role, according to former Obama staffers. Obama even promoted him to admiral.
But as Jackson held the same role into Trump’s presidency, he became more politically outspoken, especially after leaving the job in 2018. Trump soon nominated him to oversee the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson withdrew from consideration for that position amid allegations of misconduct, which the Defense Department inspector general later detailed in a report finding that he had bullied and intimidated staff and made inappropriate sexual remarks. Jackson denied the accusations and called the report a “political hit job.”
Any remaining goodwill between Jackson and former members of the Obama administration soured in May 2020 when he doubled down on Trump’s baseless claims that the former president was conspiring to take down Trump. In a statement, Jackson called Obama “a Deep State traitor” who “deserves to be brought to justice for their heinous actions.” Former Obama officials called the letter a betrayal, The Post reported.
Since his moment on the lectern before the White House press corps in 2018, Jackson has fiercely defended Trump’s cognitive state.
Last July, as Trump began going after Biden’s mental and cognitive fitness, Trump boasted about his results from the cognitive screening test. The test, called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, is meant to detect the early stages of impairments like dementia.
Ziad Nasreddine, the neurologist who created the test, told The Post that the exam does not measure someone’s IQ or intellectual abilities.
“If someone performs well, what it means is they can be ruled out for cognitive impairment that comes with diseases like Alzheimer’s, stroke or multiple sclerosis. That’s it,” Nasreddine said.
Jackson said at the time that he was not planning to administer the test but did it at Trump’s request. Trump crowed about his ability to remember five different words in order — infamously explaining the test to a Fox News reporter by using the examples “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.” He at one point said he’d want to challenge Biden to take the test.
Jackson aligned himself with Trump’s unfounded claims of Biden’s ailing cognition. During a Trump campaign call last October with reporters, Jackson repeatedly said Biden’s age made him unfit to be president.
“I’ve watched Joe Biden on the campaign trail, and I’m concerned and I’m convinced that he does not have the mental capacity, the cognitive ability to serve as our commander in chief,” Jackson said on the call.
Jackson made similar claims on Thursday in the letter, which was also addressed to the physician to the president, Kevin O’Connor, and the president’s chief medical adviser, Anthony S. Fauci. Among the 13 other GOP lawmakers who signed are close Trump allies including Reps. Greg Steube (Fla.) and Beth Van Duyne (Tex.).
The group wrote to “express concern” with the president’s “current cognitive state” and requested he take an exam “immediately … to identify early signs of mental impairment” and make the results public, the letter said. The letter refers to various moments when they say Biden had forgotten clear details or mispronounced names, claiming it pointed to mental decline.