White House shoots down Parkinson’s speculation with explanation of specialist doctor visits

A former US Army doctor specializing in movement disorders visited the White House multiple times to perform neurological exams on President Joe Biden as part of his annual physical, Physician to the President Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a memo shared Monday.

The memo to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was released hours after a contentious press briefing during which Jean-Pierre flatly denied that Biden is being treated for, or has been diagnosed with, the neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease. Reporters had pressed her on why logs showed that Dr. Kevin Cannard, a specialist who is a movement disorders fellow at Emory University, had visited the White House on multiple occasions.

O’Connor said in his letter that Canard’s visits to the White House clinic were part of an “extremely detailed neurological examination,” which Biden underwent during his January 2024 exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Seeing patients at the White House is something that Dr. Cannard has been doing for a dozen years. Dr Cannard was chosen for this responsibility not because he is a movement disorder specialist, but because he is a highly trained and highly regarded neurologist here at Walter Reed and across the Military Health System, with a very wide expertise which makes him flexible to see a variety of patients and problems,” O’Connor wrote.

O’Connor also said Cannard has been the specialist who examined Biden during each of the annual physicals he has undergone since taking office in January 2021, and noted that Cannard’s findings have been made public “each time.”

He added that Cannard also regularly visits the White House Medical Clinic “in support of the thousands of active-duty members assigned in support of White House operations,” including “many military personnel” who “experience neurological issues related to their service.”

“We value the contributions he has made across the many patients he has treated in support of the White House and its personnel over the years,” he said.

On Monday, Jean-Pierre was insistant that Biden has never been treated for Parkinson’s disease, as questions about his mental fitness continue to swirl following his disastrous debate performance against former President Donald Trump.

“Has the president been treated for Parkinson’s? No. Is he being treated for Parkinson’s? No, he’s not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson’s? No,” she said after a heated back-and-forth with reporters.

Cannard’s name was listed in the White House visitor logs, which are public records released by the Biden administration on a regular basis, but Jean-Pierre declined to confirm whether he’d even been at the White House for any reason, citing what she described as “security concerns” and privacy concerns for the hundreds of military personnel who work on the White House campus and receive care through the White House Medical Unit.

“I’m not going to confirm a name. It doesn’t matter if it’s even in the log. I am not going to do that from here. That is not something I am going to do,” said Jean-Pierre, who said Biden has seen a neurologist on three occasions in conjunction with his annual physical, and said the documentation the White House has released after each of those physicals is “in line” with medical information released under the George W Bush and Obama administrations.

“But I am not going to devolve somebody’s name or confirm someone ... It doesn’t matter how hard you push me. It doesn’t matter how angry you get with me from here. I’m just not going to do that. It is inappropriate. It is not acceptable. So I’m not going to do it,” she said.

Concerns regarding Biden’s health and mental acuity come after the president’s dismal debate performance in Atlanta on June 27. During the debate, Biden appeared confused and frail, losing his train of thought at times and speaking with a raspy voice.

Cannard’s LinkedIn page states that he has supported the White House Medical Unit for more than 12 years and his profile on a site for health professionals called Doximity states that he was a “neurology consultant to the White House Medical Unit and the physician to the president” between 2012 and 2022.

Obama administration records reveal that Cannard visited the White House 10 times in 2012, four times in 2013, and once in 2014, according to The New York Times.

Cannard met with O’Connor on January 17 this year, as well as Walter Reed cardiologist Dr John Atwood, as well as another person at the White House residence clinic, according to the logs.

Biden had his annual physical on February 28, after which O’Connor said there were “no findings” consistent with Parkinson’s or other neurological disorders.

“A wide variety of specialists from the Walter Reed system visit the White House complex to treat the thousands of military personnel who work on the grounds,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to The Times.Bates did not address the visits by Cannard directly but said that Biden “has been seen by a neurologist once a year” during his annual physical.

”That examination has found no sign of Parkinson’s and he is not being treated for it,” the spokesperson said.

During Biden’s time in office, “there have been no neurologist visits besides the one for his physical per year, three in total,” Bates added.