Karine Jean-Pierre admits giving false information about Biden neurology visit after outcry over health misdirection

WASHINGTON — President Biden was seen by neurologist Dr. Kevin Cannard, who specializes in Parkinson’s disease, at the White House on Jan. 17, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre admitted Tuesday evening after she provided reporters with the opposite information hours earlier at a briefing.

The clarification came just a day after Jean-Pierre scolded a journalist on Monday who grilled her over providing misleading information about whether Biden, 81, had been medically evaluated after his catastrophic June 27 debate performance, which triggered Democratic calls for him to step aside.

“Because the date was not mentioned in the question, I want to be clear that the Jan. 17 meeting between [presidential physician] Dr. [Kevin] O’Connor and Dr. Cannard was for the President’s physical,” Jean-Pierre told The Associated Press, whose reporter had pointedly asked Jean-Pierre about Cannard’s sole meeting with O’Connor recorded in public White House visitor logs.

“It was one of the three times the President has seen Dr. Cannard, each time for his physical. The findings from each exam have been released to the public,” Jean-Pierre said.

Earlier Tuesday, the AP’s Seung Min Kim had asked Jean-Pierre, “Can you say whether that one meeting [between Cannard and O’Connor] was related to care for the president himself?”

Jean-Pierre replied, “I can say that it was not.”

Cannard’s visit with O’Connor was first reported Saturday by The Post — stoking rampant speculation that he had evaluated Biden for possible neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s.

Cannard visited the White House eight times in eight months for what O’Connor suggested in a Monday night letter was treatment of military members — even though his frequent recent visits were listed as going to the residence clinic in the White House basement, rather than a separate and larger medical facility in the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Cannard’s findings after evaluating Biden were included in a physical report released by his physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor on Feb. 28, which said he was evaluated during an “extremely detailed neurologic exam.”

“[T]here were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis, nor are there any signs of cervical myelopathy,” the report said.

Jean-Pierre’s latest disclosure pushes back the date for what the White House says was Biden’s most recent neurological exam — as doctors and politicians openly speculate about his cognitive prognosis.

The press secretary’s walk-back came despite a press corps outcry over her initial refusal to explain Cannard’s visits and her flat denial last week that “no” Biden hadn’t had “any kind of medical exam” after the debate at which he appeared confused and made remarks such as that he “finally beat Medicare.”

Another White House spokesperson later disclosed that “several days” after the debate “the President was seen to check on his cold and was recovering well.”

Jean-Pierre scolded CBS journalist Ed O’Keefe during a tense briefing exchange on Monday when he pressed her on the fact that “it is listed that [Cannard] went to the residence clinic.”

“Hold on a second. There’s no reason to go back and forth with me in this aggressive way,” Jean-Pierre said in a sanctimonious tone.

“Well, we’re a little miffed around here about how information has been shared with the press corps about him,” O’Keefe replied.

“What are you missed [sic] about?  What are you missed [sic] about?” she exclaimed, insisting that “every time I come back and I answer the question that you guys asked.”

“And you answer it incorrectly and then have to come back and clean it up a few days later,” O’Keefe retorted.

Later in the briefing, Jean-Pierre said the line of questioning was inappropriate.

“The personal attacks is [sic] not okay,” she said.

Jean-Pierre is widely regarded by White House colleagues as ill-prepared and incurious about details of major stories before briefing the press — prompting an unsuccessful effort last fall led by presidential adviser Anita Dunn, who controls West Wing communications strategy, to persuade her to leave ahead of the election year.

Leave a Comment