White House explains neurologist's numerous visits

President Joe Biden’s doctor released a letter late Monday clarifying the reasons for a Parkinson’s disease specialist’s numerous visits to the White House, just hours after reporters seeking an explanation clashed with the president’s press secretary in the briefing room.

Kevin O’Connor, the president’s doctor, said Kevin Cannard — who visited the White House several times over the last year — has been a neurology consultant to the White House medical office since 2012. Cannard, a Parkinson’s expert, holds neurology clinics at the White House for active-duty military members, the letter said. He was also the neurological specialist who examined Biden for his three annual physicals since taking office.

The president has not seen a neurologist outside of his physical, O’Connor said. He reiterated that Biden’s February physical found no findings 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.”

“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,” the letter said.

The letter came just hours after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clashed with reporters over questions about whether or not Cannard was at the White House to consult on the president’s health. In recent days, several news outlets have reported on Cannard’s visits to the White House, including a meeting with the president’s doctor.

Monday’s tense back-and-forth drew headlines about Jean-Pierre’s unwillingness to answer the numerous questions about the doctor’s visits. The president is still trying to clean up last month’s rough debate and to convince members of his own party that he’s up to the task of running for reelection.

Jean-Pierre on Monday repeatedly said she would not confirm the name of the specialist to protect the privacy of the people treated in the White House Medical Unit. In his letter, O’Connor said he received permission from both the president and Cannard since they typically do not disclose the names of specialists they work with in order to “protect the privacy for thousands of patients of the White House Medical Unit.”

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