White House Physician: Trump ‘Did Exceedingly Well’ on Cognitive Assessment

Says president insisted on the exam despite no 'clinically indicated' problem

January 16, 2018

White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson said at the White House press briefing Tuesday that President Donald Trump did "exceedingly well" on an assessment designed to screen for cognitive dysfunction.

Jackson said Trump showed no signs of requiring a cognitive assessment but insisted on having one, which he passed. Trump has previously responded to media speculation about his mental health, and MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson asked the doctor whether he is mentally fit to be president.

"Can you assess the president’s mental fitness for office?" she asked.

"The president did exceedingly well on it," Jackson said. "That was not driven at all by any clinical concerns I have; it was driven by the president's wishes, and he did well on it."

He explained cognitive assessments are not usually performed as part of the president's exam unless indications of a problem arise, and he saw no such indications.

"I had no intentions whatsoever of doing that, like I said, because I didn't feel it was clinically indicated," Jackson said. "The reason we did the cognitive assessment is plain and simple: because the president asked me to do it."

"He came to me and said, ‘Is there something we can do, a test or some type of screening we can do to assess my cognitive ability?’" Jackson added.

The White House physician said he intentionally selected a rigorous assessment, even though most of the regular exams used by general practitioners are short and simple.

"We picked one of the ones that was a little more involved," Jackson said. "It was longer. It was the more difficult one of all of them. It took significantly longer to complete."

Assessments of Trump’s mental health by the media and some Democratic opponents have veered into more critical territory. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Trump is "mentally unstable" last year, and some psychologists have met with Democrats to discuss removing Trump from office for mental unfitness via the 25th Amendment.

Jackson has served as White House physician during the past three administrations and was also the appointed physician to the president for President Barack Obama, according to the Department of the Navy.