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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denies that Biden has Parkinson's

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denies that Biden has Parkinson's

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had a fiery exchange with reporters during the weekly press briefing. She dodged reporters questions about published reports that President Joseph R. Biden (D) was meeting repeatedly with a top Parkinson's disease specialist. The New York Post had reported earlier in the day that Dr. Kevin Cannard has visited the White House eight times in the last eight months and on several of those visits met with Biden's personal doctor Kevin O'Connor. Jean-Pierre did deny that the President has Parkinson's. She also said that a cognitive test is not warranted.

A reporter asked: "My first to you is on the credibility of this White House when it comes to talking about the president's health. There's a lot of reporting in the last 24 hours about a Parkinson's expert who's come to visit the White House almost a dozen times over the last year or so, including a mee- -- at least one meeting with the president's physician. Could you state, like, very clearly yes or no: Was that expert here to participate in anything surrounding the care of the president of the United States?"

Ms. Jean-Pierre responded: "So, let me just say a couple of things. We have had a comprehensive -- and I just want to take another step back -- comprehensive physical examination. The president has had that. We've given a comprehensive report. We've shared that the past three years. Every year that he has -- every year that he has had this -- this exam, he sees a neurologist. And just to give you a quote from that -- from the report most recently in February: "An extremely detailed neurological exam was again reassuring in that there were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebella- -- cerebellar or other central neurological disorders such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, or ascending lateral sclerosis," end quote. So, that came directly from -- in February, in that comprehensive report that was provided by the president's doctor to me that I shared with all of you. So, anyone who is watching can certainly go to our website."

The reporter followed up, "That's not an answer to the question, though, which was this was this expert's visits to -- were his multiple visits to the White House pertaining at all to the president's care?"

Jean-Pierre answered, "Well, here's the thing. I have -- I have said he's -- he has had three -- he has thr- -- had three -- three physicals. In those three physicals, that's when he has seen a specialist -- a neurolo- -- a neurological specialist."

The reporter countered, "Was this the specialist that the president saw?"

Jean-Pierre responded, "I have to be super mindful here. And this is why -- and I'll -- and I'll explain this to you in a second. There are thousands of military personnel who come onto this White House. Many of them get the care from the White House Medical Unit. And so, need to be super careful. There are -- you know, the medical unit hosts a wide range of specialists, from dermatologist to a neurologist, and so I cannot speak to every person because there are act- -- there's actually a security reasons to protect their privacy. We respect in protecting people's privacy. So, do not want to share -- I'm not going to share people's names from here. But the president, I can tell you, has seen a neurologist three times, as it's connected to the -- to the physical that he gets every year that we provide to all of you."

The reporter followed up, "But, Karine, you're not answering the question. It's a very basic, direct question."

Jean-Pierre said, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait."

The reporter continued, "Did Dr. Kevin Cannard –"

Jean-Pierre interrupted: "Hold on, hold on. Wait, wait."

The reporter continued, "-- come to the White House to --."

Jean-Pierre interrupted again, "Wait. Wait a second."

The reporter asked, "-- eight times –"

Jean-Pierre said, "Wait."

The reporter continued, "-- or at least once, in regards to –"

Jean-Pierre interrupted, "I just –"

The reporter asked, "-- the president specifically?"

Jean-Pierre broke in, "Wait. Hold on a second."

The reporter continued, "That much you should be answer by this point –"

Jean-Pierre said, "Wait -- no, no, no, no, no, no."

The reporter said, "-- after four days of reporting about it."

Jean-Pierre followed up, "No, wait a minute. Calm -- Ed, please. A little respect here, please. So, every year, around the president's physical examination, he sees a neurologist. That's three times. Right? So, I am telling you that he has seen a neurologist three times while he has been in this presidency. That's what I'm saying."

The reporter asked, "Here at the White House or at Walter Reed?"

Jean-Pierre said, "I am telling you that he has seen them three times. That is what I'm sharing with you. Right? So, every time he has a physical, he has had to see a neurologist. So, that is answering that question."

The reporter replied, "No, it's not."

Jean-Pierre responded, "No, it is. It is."

The reporter began, "Did --

Jean-Pierre interrupted, "You're asking me –"

The reporter continued, "-- Dr. Kevin Cannard come to the White House –"

Q -- Dr. Kevin Cannard come to the White House --

Jean-Pierre responded, "I cannot -- but I just ans- --

The reporter continued, "-- specifically about the president's conditions?"

Jean-Pierre, "I also said to you -- Ed, I also said to you: For security reasons, we cannot share names. We cannot share names. We have to pro- -- we have to –"

The reporter asked, "You cannot share names of others he would have met with –"

Jean-Pierre continued, "We cannot –"

The reporter continued, "-- but you can share names in regards to –"

Jean-Pierre said, "No, no, no, no, no. We –"

The reporter asked, "-- if someone came here in regards to the president."

Jean-Pierre said, "No, we cannot share -- we cannot share names of specialists broadly. From a dermatologist to a neurologist, we cannot share names. There are security reasons we have to –"

Reporter – "They're in the White House visitor log."

Jean-Pierre – "We have to prot- --"

Reporter – "Yeah, it's public. It's public."

Jean-Pierre – "I understand that."

Reporter – "I looked it up before I came out here."

Jean-Pierre – "I under- -- I hear you. I –"

Reporter – "It's right there for anyone see."

Jean-Pierre, "Ed, I hear you. I cannot from here confirm any of that because we have to keep their privacy. I think they would appreciate that too. We have to give them –"

Reporter – "Who would? The patient or the doctor?"

Jean-Pierre – "We have to keep their privacy."

Reporter – "It's public. It is public. It's public information."

Jean-Pierre – "I -- I -- I hear you.

Reporter – "It is listed that he went to the Residence clinic. And you're –"

Jean-Pierre – "I -- I –"

Reporter "-- going to allow this to fester longer, Karine –"

Jean-Pierre – "Guys -- guys –"

Reporter – "-- unless the White House –"

Jean-Pierre – "-- guys -- guys –"

Reporter - "--just answers the question."

Jean-Pierre – "Hold on a second. There's no reason to get back -- go back and forth with me in this aggressive way."

Reporter – "Well, we're a little miffed around here about how information has been shared with the press corps about him."

Jean-Pierre – "What are you -- what are you miffed about? What are you miffed about?"

Second reporter – "Oh, everything he just asked about."

Jean-Pierre – "What are you -- and then every time I come back and I answer the question that you guys asked."

Reporter – "And you answer it incorrectly and then have to come back and clean it up a few days later."

Jean-Pierre – "I never answered the question incorrectly. That is not true. I was asked about a medical exam. I was asked about a physical. That was in the line of question that I answered. And I said, "No, he did not have a medical exam." And I still stand th- -- by that. Matter of fact, the president still stands by that. He had a verbal check-in. That is something that the president has a couple times a week -- a couple times a week."

Reporter: "And now, in regards to Dr. Kevin Cannard?"

Jean-Pierre – "And I am telling you, right now, that I am not sharing, confirming names from here. It is a security reason. I am not going to do that, Ed. It doesn't matter how hard you push me. It doesn't matter how angry you get with me. I am 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. What I can share with you is that the president has seen a neurologist for his physical three times -- three times. And it is in the reporting that we share -- a comprehensive reporting. Matter -- matter of fact, it's more than what the last guy shared, and it is in line with what George -- George W. Bush did. It's in line with what Obama did. And so, it is comprehensive. It is out there. I just read a quote from it. But I am not -- I am not going to devolve [divulge] somebody's name and -- or confirm someone. I am not going to do that. That is as a -- privacy for that person. I'm not going to do that. 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."

Reporter – "Not about the name."

Jean-Pierre – "Go ahead. No, go ahead."

Reporter – "Karine, if you cannot confirm the name can you confirm whether or not the president has seen this Parkinson's specialist? And you mentioned three times that the visitor logs show a duration of eight visits over eight months. I think that is the crux of the question that we're asking."

Jean-Pierre – "But I -- but I also said -- I also said there are thousands of military personnel that come to the White House, and they are under the care of the medical unit. They are."

Reporter – "So, can you confirm that the Parkinson's visit –"

Jean-Pierre interrupted – "I -- I –"

Reporter: "-- specialist visits were for the president or not?"

Jean-Pierre - "I -- what I can tell you is that the president has seen a neurologist three times, and I read to you what the neurologist has said. And I read to you the last -- the last line. I could say it again: "No findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurologic- -- neurological disorders, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, or ascending lateral sclerosis. That is from -- that is from February. That is coming from February. That is what the medical unit -- the m- -- the president's doctor shared. And I shared -- I said to you it's happened three times. Each time there is a physical that occurs, and we put out a comprehensive report. That is when he has been able to see -- to see a specialist."

Reporter – "Just one other follow-up –"

Jean-Pierre – "So, that's what I can share."

Reporter "-- question on -- on this. Has the president -- you mentioned Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, all of these things. One diagnosis that we have heard -- a potential diagnosis -- is hydrocephalus, which is fluid buildup in the brain. It's something we've never heard in any of the medical reports. Is that something that the president has been –"

Jean-Pierre – "If it's –"

Reporter – "-- evaluated for?"

Jean-Pierre – "Le- -- if it's -- if it's not in the medical report, obviously, it's not -- it's not something that the president is dealing with. If –"

Reporter – "But has he been evaluated for hydrocephalus?"

Jean-Pierre – "Well, I can tell you this. Just going back to Parkinson's for a little bit. So, to give you some answers here: 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. So, those are the things that I can give you full-blown answers on. But I'm not going to dev- -- I'm not going to confirm a specialist -- a -- any specialist that comes to -- come -- comes to the White House out of privacy."

Reporter – "One other question. Is -- will the president go to the Hill today? I know we saw his letter. Is he intending to have this conversation face to face with Democratic lawmakers?"

Jean-Pierre – "So, look, the president -- obviously, this is someone who was a senator for 36 years; who was the president of the Senate as -- when he was vice president for eight years. And he respects -- truly respects the members of Congress and has always and will always do that, especially as a former senator. And I will say -- and you heard -- you've heard us say this before -- or most recently is this is a president who's won -- won the primary -- right? -- by 14 million votes, 87 percent of those votes, certainly. And, look, I don't have any engagements to read out, you know, outside of that. But I will say that the president was in Pennsylvania. I just mentioned at the top, he got -- he got to see Senator Fetterman, Senator Casey. He also got to see Cong- -- Congresswoman Dean. He spent some time with them. They traveled across Pennsylvania. And I will say when the president gets knocked down, he gets back up. This is quintessential Joe Biden. And there are a long list of other congressional members who have shown their support for this president.I don't have anything else to read out. You saw the letter. The p- -- letter was -- the letter was, I think, pretty, pretty clear on where the president stand. And I'll just leave it there."

Reporter three – "You've noted that there are thousands within the Walter Reed system who may be treated by a specialist who visits –"

Jean-Pierre – "Yeah."

Reporter – "Here at the White House. But this neurologist had a meeting with the president's physician -- with his doctor."

Jean-Pierre – "I understand that."

Reporter - "You're refusing to say if he was here to evaluate the president –"

Jean-Pierre – "I understand."

Reporter – "-- or if he was consulting on the president's health. So, what, then, was that meeting about?"

Jean-Pierre – "And I will say that Dr. O'Connor leads the medical unit. He is literally –"

Reporter – "So, can he tell us?"

Jean-Pierre – "-- he's literally the -- he leads the medical unit. No, because we will not confirm or -- or speak to names that are -- you're providing to me. It is out of security reason. It is out of protecting someone's privacy. We're just not going to do that. But they are -- the reason that I mentioned that is because there are a thousand military members that do indeed use the -- use the White House Medical Unit. They do."

Reporter – "But we're not talking about those other people."

Jean-Pierre – "They get care from that."

Reporter – "We're talking about the president of the United States."

Jean-Pierre – "I know, but I'm try- -- but I -- guys, I'm trying to answer the question so you can connect the dot that there are multiple neurologists that come -- not neurologists -- specialists that come through here because there are a thou- -- like, more than a thousand medical -- medical -- military personnel here -- military personnel here."

Reporter – "But you certainly could clear this all up just by saying what he was doing here and if it was connected to the president: yes or no?"

Jean-Pierre – "I -- I am not going to confirm the -- a neur- -- a particular nar- -- neurologist, anybody. It doesn't matter if they're a derm- -- dermatologist or a neurologist. I'm just not going to do that. I shared with all of you that the president has met -- has been with a neurologist three times as it relates to his physical. Three times. So, you know –"

Reporter – "But we don't know if this neurologist."

Jean-Pierre – "I'm just not -- I'm -- guys, I'm just not going to do that out of security reasons, out of privacy. It is -- it is not something that I'm going to do. A measure of privacy we have to be able to give people from here."

Reporter – "One other question. Again, the president -- the president's -- We're just looking for clarification."

Jean-Pierre - "Hold on. Hold on, guys. Come on. Come on, Kelly O."

Reporter four – "The president's doctor, you say, has seen no reason to evaluate him for Parkinson's since his physical in February. Is that based on these verbal check-ins that you've been describing, based on his public appearances?"

Jean-Pierre - "Will you say that one more time?"

Reporter – "That -- you've said that the president's doctor has seen no reason to evaluate him or reevaluate him for Parkinson's since that physical in February. What is that based on? Is it these verbal check-ins?"

Jean-Pierre – "Oh, I never -- I never said that."

Reporter – "That's what the White House has said."

Jean-Pierre – "Well, what I have said is -- what I have said is that he just had a physical just in February, and the physical was very clear. It was a comprehensive physical. It's -- we gave out a report on that. And -- and, you know, as it relates to the check-ins, that is something that is common. The -- the president has a medical unit that is literally down the hall that he's able to check in with when necessary. They normally do it while he's exercising. That is not uncommon. It is very different -- it is very different than any everyday American. They do not have that option. They do not have that access, because he's president of the United States. Every other president has had that access, and they are able to do that."

Reporter – "o, wait. Just to be clear: Yes or no, has he -- has his physician seen a reason to reevaluate him for Parkinson's since the February physical?"

Jean-Pierre – "No. The -- the comprehensive report that you all have stands. There is -- we -- the president, obviously, will have another physical, and we'll wait for that physical."

Reporter 5 – "So, the president has said twice that he's had neurological evaluations as part of his physicals, you know, in these various interviews --

Jean-Pierre - "Yeah."

Reporter "-- today and then in -- and also on ABC. But there have been a number of people who have said, "Listen, you know, why don't you have a cognitive test just to rule out that there are any issues?" Would the president -- you know, do you -- you know, would you -- would you counsel –"

Jean-Pierre – "I hear you."

Reporter – "-- to do that just to sort of put an end to these questions?"

Jean-Pierre – "No, Andrea, I hear you. The neurologists have said it is not warranted. The president himself -- he said it today; he said it mu- -- multiple times -- and the doctor has said this -- everything that he does day in and day out as it relates to delivering for the American people is a cognitive test. And that is what the medical doctor has said. That is what the specialist said."

Taken from a transcript provided by the White House.

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