Sep 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pence: "I don't recall being told to be on standby" during Trump's Walter Reed visit

Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday that he does not "recall" being told to be on standby to assume the powers of the presidency if President Trump was put under anesthesia during his sudden visit to Walter Reed Medical Center last November.

Why it matters: The White House has never fully explained Trump's visit to Walter Reed amid the impeachment fight, describing it only as a "routine, planned interim checkup." New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt reports in his new book that "word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be on standby," but that Pence never assumed office.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: "It never ends! Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes. Never happened to THIS candidate - FAKE NEWS. Perhaps they are referring to another candidate from another Party!"

  • Schmidt's report does not mention anything about a stroke, but a few commentators on Twitter suggested, without evidence, that it was a possibility.
  • The White House physician later issued a statement at the request of Trump saying the president "has not experienced nor been evaluated for" a stroke or mini-stroke.

The exchange:

BRET BAIER: "[Schmidt] says in the book that you were put on alert to take control, to take office, essentially, if he went under for anesthesia. Is that true?"
PENCE: "President Donald Trump is in excellent health. And Bret, I'm always informed of the president's movements, whether it was on that day or any other day, I'm informed. But there was nothing out of the ordinary about that moment or that day. I just refer any other questions to the White House physician."
BAIER: "But as far as being on standby?"
PENCE: "I don't recall being told to be on standby. I was informed that the president had a doctors appointment, and -- 
BAIER: "I don't want to speculate on it, I just want to clear that up."
PENCE: "I've got to tell you, part of this job is you are always on standby if you're vice president of the United States. But the American people can be confident that this president is in remarkable good health, and every single day I see that energy."
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