Mike Pence was “on standby” to take over the presidency during Donald Trump’s unplanned visit to hospital last year, according to claims in a new book.
Plans for Mr Pence to take the presidency if Mr Trump needed surgery during a November 2019 visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre were revealed in a review of a new book by New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt.
While Mr Pence did not end up taking that step, Mr Schmidt says in Donald Trump v the United States that the vice president was “on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anaesthetized”.
The White House’s press secretary at the time, Stephanie Grisham, said the visit was to begin parts of the president’s annual physical exam and that the president remained “healthy and energetic without complaints”.
Mr Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, followed up two days after the exam with a memo saying the president’s “interim checkup” was routine and was only unplanned due to scheduling conflicts.
“Despite some speculation, the president has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues,” Dr Conley wrote in the memo. “Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.”
Any purpose of the unscheduled visit beyond what the White House confirmed has remained unclear, despite online activists claiming the president had suffered more serious health issues.