Parkinson’s specialist met with Biden’s physician at the White House earlier this year, records show

A top Parkinson’s disease specialist held a meeting with President Joe Biden’s physician at the White House earlier this year, according to records, though the circumstances of the meeting are unclear.

Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, met with White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor at the White House in mid-January, according to White House visitor logs.

Cannard has visited the White House three times this year, according to the visitor logs: A January 17 meeting with O’Connor, and with another staffer on January 26 and March 28. Cannard has visited the White House at least eight times over the past year, according to the logs, beginning last August and ending with the March 28 meeting. Only the January 17 meeting lists O’Connor as the person who was visited.

O’Connor took the unusual step Monday night of releasing a letter offering some details about Cannard’s visits to the White House, following days of speculation about the president’s health, writing that “President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical.”

He wrote of Cannard: “Prior to the pandemic, and following its end, he has held regular Neurology Clinics at the White House Medical Clinic in support of the thousands of active-duty members assigned in support of White House operations,” adding, “Many military personnel experience neurological issues related to their service, and Dr. Cannard regularly visits the WHMU as part of this General Neurology practice.”

O’Connor described Cannard as the “neurological specialist that examined President Biden for each of his annual physicals” and noted the specialist’s findings were included each time he publicly released the results of the president’s physical.

Asked earlier Monday about the visit between Cannard and O’Connor, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said, “A wide variety of specialists from the Walter Reed system visit the White House complex to treat the thousands of military personnel who work on the grounds.”

Those visits include one from a neurologist each year for Biden’s physical, Bates said. Biden has not been seen by a neurologist during his time as president outside the context of his annual physical, he added.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later repeated Biden had been seen by a neurologist three times during his presidency – once during each of his physicals – but declined to name them or explain why Cannard had visited the White House eight times over the past year.

She said she wouldn’t name the specialist due to security reasons. Publicly available profiles name Cannard as a neurology specialist supporting the White House Medical Unit.

“I am not sharing, confirming names from here,” she said during the news briefing, which quickly became contentious as Jean-Pierre deflected questions about the president’s health. “It doesn’t matter how hard you push me, it doesn’t matter how angry you get with me, I’m 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.”

Jean-Pierre added Biden has never been treated for, or taken any medicine to treat, Parkinson’s.

Cannard — who’s worked as a neurologist for Walter Reed for more than a decade — has visited the White House multiple times, according to the visitor logs, which don’t detail the reasons for the visit, including whether Cannard was visiting in reference to Biden or another person who works at the White House.

Biden’s latest health report, released by O’Connor, indicated the president had been screened for a number of neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s, with negative results, as did two other physical reports from Biden’s time as president.

The six-page letter from O’Connor, released after the president underwent his last physical in February, said several specialists consulted on the physical, including a neurological specialist.

It later said O’Connor convened several specialists, including an unnamed movement-disorder neurologic specialist, to review Biden’s stiffened gait, which had been noted since Biden’s November 2021 physical.

That team concluded Biden’s stiff gait was the result of “wear and tear” on his spine and not a neurological condition, O’Connor wrote. An “extremely detailed” exam resulted in no findings consistent with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, or other neurological disorders.

News of the visit by Cannard comes as Biden’s age, fitness and mental acuity have been under intense scrutiny following his faltering June 27 presidential debate performance against former President Donald Trump.

In the 11 days since that performance, Biden has had to defend his position on the top of the Democratic ticket and his ability to govern for another four years if he is reelected. Both the White House and Biden have repeatedly been asked about tests and doctors visits in the months before the debate and the moments after.

Biden was asked in an ABC interview on Friday whether he had taken specific tests for cognitive capability. The president responded by saying he is regularly seen by White House doctors and added, “No one said I had to … they said I’m good.”

The president also added that he spoke with his doctor and was told, “You’re exhausted.” Biden said, “Being president” means “I get a full neurological test every day.”

Speaking with Biden during an interview Monday morning, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski asked Biden specifically whether he had undergone any recent tests for Parkinson’s. Biden confirmed he had.

“Have you been tested for any age-related illness, pre-Parkinson’s or anything like that, that might explain sort of having a night like that where you couldn’t finish sentences?” the MSNBC host asked.

Biden laughed before responding: “I had before.”

The president added: “I was feeling so badly before the debate, when I came back, they tested me for - I thought maybe I had COVID, maybe there was something wrong, I had an infection or something. They tested me, they gave me those tests, I was clear.”

The White House and Biden campaign have alternatively blamed Biden’s poor performance during the debate on his packed travel schedule in the weeks before – Biden went to France to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day and Italy to attend the G7 – and a cold.

The White House initially said Biden wasn’t seen by a doctor after the debate, but then reversed after Biden told a group of governors during a meeting last week that he underwent a medical checkup after the debate and is fine.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Nikki Carvajal and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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