PRESIDENT TRUMP’S recent claim to be taking hydroxychloroquine as a precaution against covid-19 prompted skepticism. Would any doctor really prescribe an unproven and potentially dangerous drug to the holder of the world’s most powerful office? A statement from Mr. Trump’s doctor added to the doubt, because it never explicitly said he had prescribed the drug. The incident, sad to say, is typical of the troubling way the White House has handled issues related to the president’s health.
Mr. Trump’s last annual physical for which information was released to the public was conducted in February 2019. Ten months later, Mr. Trump made a trip that had not appeared on his schedule to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. The White House issued a statement saying Mr. Trump was merely “taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington” to begin his annual physical. CNN reported that the hospital’s staff had not been notified of the president’s visit in advance. There were obvious questions, such as who gets an annual exam in multiple stages? Since that mysterious visit in November, the questions haven’t been answered and, as far as is known, Mr. Trump has yet to complete the yearly examination.
Asked in early March about when the physical would be completed, he told reporters, “I’m going probably over the next 90 days. I’m so busy, I can’t do it.” A month later when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized with covid-19, Mr. Trump said he would finish the exam “at the appropriate time.”
When questions were raised about Mr. Trump’s hydroxychloroquine claim and the carefully worded letter from White House physician Sean Conley, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said “the president should be taken at his word.” Again sad to say, Mr. Trump long ago forfeited that presumption. As a candidate for president in 2016, Mr. Trump personally dictated a glowing letter from his physician attesting to his health, although Mr. Trump’s authorship was not revealed until after the election.
Americans are entitled to know about the president’s health. Typical practice is for annual physicals to be conducted at the beginning of the year, with results promptly made public. Mr. Trump, about to turn 74 and running for reelection, needs to answer questions raised about his condition. He should get his annual exam from government doctors and allow them to tell voters the state of his health.