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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."

Go deeper

George W. Bush congratulates Biden on election victory

Photo: Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush issued a statement on Sunday congratulating President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election victory.

Why it matters: Every living president has now congratulated Biden and acknowledged the outcome of the election, even as President Trump refuses to concede and continues to lodge unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Nov 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump may not, but many in inner circle accept defeat

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Stefan Rousseau (AFP), Jabin Botsford (The Washington Post)/Getty Images

Apart from a few die-hards, most people close to President Trump know the race is over — but no one wants to be the sacrificial lamb who tells him to concede, people familiar with their thinking tell me.

Why it matters: Trump's long-shot legal war, aimed at preventing him from being the first one-term president in 28 years, is being enabled by active supporters — and a lot of passive appeasement.

Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

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