White House doctor: ‘No concerns’ about Trump’s cognitive ability

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, hoping to rebut questions about his mental fitness, requested the White House physician perform a cognitive exam during his physical last week.

The President, 71, received a perfect score, the doctor said Tuesday during an extraordinary hourlong questioning session at the White House, and he raised no concerns about Trump’s ability to carry out his job.

“I have no concerns about his cognitive ability,” Dr. Ronny Jackson told reporters from the briefing room. He said he hadn’t initially planned to administer the screening for neurological impairments, but did so at Trump’s asking.

“I’ve found no reason whatsoever to think the President has any issues whatsoever with his thought processes,” Jackson said.

The assessment was one in a series of rosy readings that Jackson offered about Trump’s health after examining him for more than four hours last week. In a remarkable show of transparency for an administration known for its secret-keeping, Jackson stood at the White House podium for an hour Tuesday answering questions about the President’s health.

He said the performance had been requested by Trump himself, who had told him to answer every query about the exam in an attempt to put to rest questions about the President’s physical and mental fitness.

Trump “was watching and liked it,” an official said after the briefing.

Despite what he said were concerns about Trump’s weight, diet and exercise levels, Jackson declared the President in “excellent” health, which he predicted would hold up for the remainder of his term.

Trump weighs 239 pounds, Jackson said, and stands at 6 feet 3 inches. That places him just below the “obese” range on the body mass index.

Jackson said that during the exam he and Trump discussed his diet, setting a goal of losing 10-15 pounds. The gym facilities in the White House residence will be renovated to Trump’s specifications, Jackson said, and first lady Melania Trump will be enlisted to help him stick to the new regimen.

A nutritionist has been brought into the White House kitchens to consult with the chefs there on ways to limit Trump’s intake of calories, including by cutting fats and carbohydrates. And Jackson has upped Trump’s dosage of Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering statin.

“He’s more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part, but we’re going to do both,” Jackson said.

The concerns over his weight aside, Jackson said Trump was in excellent health, which he ascribed to good genetics and a lifelong avoidance of tobacco and alcohol.

“It is called genetics,” Jackson said when asked how a borderline obese man with on cholesterol-lowering medication could be considered in excellent health. “I don’t know. Some people have great genes.”

The doctor told reporters Trump scored 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which according to its website is a “cognitive screening test designed to assist Health Professionals in the detection of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Jackson said such testing wasn’t originally in the plan for the physical, and isn’t recommended by doctors for patients of Trump’s age.

Ahead of the exam, the White House had said tests for mental acuity would not be included. The question arose after a week of speculation about the President’s mental fitness for office, spurred by the publication of a damaging book that suggested Trump’s own aides worry about his stability. Later, Trump attempted to clarify matters by tweeting he was a “very stable genius.”

“The President is very sharp, very articulate when he speaks to me,” Jackson said. As the President’s physician, Jackson travels with Trump on nearly all of his trips and works in close proximity to Trump on a daily basis.

Jackson said Trump takes Crestor, for cholesterol; a low dose of aspirin to prevent heart attacks; antibiotics to treat skin rosacea; and Propecia for baldness.

The President himself decided what to make public from his exam, in accordance with medical privacy rules. Jackson said Tuesday that there were no readings he was withholding.

That type of transparency is a shift for Trump, who has been unwilling to disclose information that candidates and presidents typically reveal, such as his tax returns.

Jackson performed the yearly physical Friday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.