Who is Parkinson’s expert Dr. Cannard and why did he visit the White House 8 times?

Concerns over President Biden’s health are at a fever pitch following his disastrous debate performance against former President Trump, which has only been compounded by reports showing a neurological specialist repeatedly visited the White House during the 46th president’s administration. 

Parkinson’s disease specialist Dr. Kevin Cannard visited the White House eight times across an eight-month span between July 2023 through March of this year, heightening concerns surrounding Biden’s mental acuity and health – concerns that have been mounting for years. The White House, however, has repeatedly downplayed concerns over the visits, arguing the White House Medical Unit is composed of many different health professionals who frequent 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and that Cannard only saw Biden for his annual physicals. 

Cannard describes himself on his LinkedIn page as a ‘Neurology specialist supporting the White House Medical Unit’ who has worked in various capacities at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, since 1998. The Maryland-based doctor was thrust into the spotlight after news broke of his repeated visits to the White House last week, with Cannard previously maintaining a low profile outside the medical world. 

‘[Cannard’s] practice encompasses both general neurology as well as movement disorders as part of the residency training program at Walter Reed,’ a biography for Cannard on a networking platform for medical professionals reads. ‘He has over 30 years of experience in the use of botulinum toxin for the treatment of movement disorders, spasticity, and pain syndromes to include headache. The first 20 years of his medical career was spent on active duty in the U.S. Army, retiring as a Colonel in 2008. He has been a civilian physician at Walter Reed ever since.’

Cannard has also made a handful of small donations to the Biden campaign stretching back to 2020, and totaling $3,300, federal election records show. 

On Monday during the White House press briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was pressed by the media during a fiery exchange to speak to whether the eight visits were related specifically to Biden’s health. Jean-Pierre, instead, refused to confirm Cannard by name. She did confirm a neurologist had examined Biden three times for his three yearly physicals since taking office.

​​’They’re in the White House visitor logs. It’s public. I looked it up before I came out here. It is right there for anyone to see,’ CBS News reporter Ed O’Keefe said Monday in the presser when questioning the press secretary about Cannard being listed eight times on White House visitor logs. 

‘I cannot from here confirm any of that because we have to keep their privacy. I think they would appreciate that too,’ Jean-Pierre said. 

‘The patient or the doctor?’ O’Keefe asked. 

‘We have to keep their privacy,’ Jean-Pierre replied. 

‘It is public,’ NBC News correspondent Kelly O’Donnell jumped in to say, while O’Keffe added, ‘you’re going to allow this to fester longer, Karine, unless the White House just answers the question.’ 

By Monday evening, Biden’s White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, released a statement clarifying that Cannard visited the White House three times for Biden’s annual physicals. 

He said Cannard was chosen for Biden’s annual physicals ‘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 added that Biden did not see ​​a neurologist outside his annual physicals. 

No signs of neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ascending lateral sclerosis, stroke or cervical myelopathy, were found during Biden’s physical in February, O’Connor said. 

Jean-Pierre was grilled yet again on Tuesday about Cannard’s visits, where she erroneously said one of the meetings this year was not related to Biden’s health. 

‘Can you say whether that one meeting [between Cannard and O’Connor] was related to care for the president himself?’ the AP asked Jean-Pierre during the press briefing Tuesday.

‘I can say that it was not,’ Jean-Pierre responded. 

The press secretary backtracked later Tuesday that Cannard’s Jan. 17 meeting at the White House was in fact related to Biden’s health, specifically related to the president’s yearly physical. 

‘Because the date was not mentioned in the question, I want to be clear that the Jan. 17 meeting between [presidential physician] Dr. [Kevin] O’Connor and Dr. Cannard was for the President’s physical,’ Jean-Pierre told The Associated Press. 

‘It was one of the three times the President has seen Dr. Cannard, each time for his physical. The findings from each exam have been released to the public,’ Jean-Pierre added.

When asked if it would be typical if another doctor, such as a dermatologist or cardiologist, visited the White House eight times in eight months, an administration spokesman directed Fox Digital to Jean-Pierre’s comments earlier this week highlighting that the White House Medical Unit also oversees military personnel at the White House. 

‘There are thousands of military personnel so you also have an understanding because there are thir- – a thousand military personnel that comes here and that not just comes here but under the care of the medical unit. Right? They get – they get care from the White House Medical Unit. They – there tends to be dermatologist from – or dermatologist to neurolog- – neurologists who come through here – who come through here because the White House Medical Unit is i- – indeed caring for folks,’ she said, according to the official transcript. 

Concern over Biden’s mental sharpness swelled last month, when he delivered a botched debate performance that included losing his train of thought at times and giving garbled answers in a subdued and raspy voice. The debate unleashed panic among Democratic allies and members of the media, as they remarked his debate performance was a failure that added fuel to the fire surrounding concerns about Biden’s mental acuity and age. 

Amid the fallout from the debate, as well as his first sit-down interview with the media last week that did not help quell concerns, Biden has vowed to stay in the race. 

Biden was pressed in an interview with George Stephanopoulos last week on whether he would take a cognitive test and release the results to the public, which Biden repeatedly dodged. 

‘No, no one said I had to.… They said I’m good,’ Biden responded.

This week, he joined MSNBC and doubled-down that his poor performance was not due to a serious health issue, instead arguing he was running on empty due to his chaotic schedule and was battling a cold. 

‘If there was something that was wrong that night, it’s not like it comes and that’s one night and it goes away,’ he said. ‘That’s why I’ve been out. I’ve been testing myself, testing everywhere I go. Going out and making the case. The night of that debate, I went out. I was out until 2 o’clock in the morning that very night. That very night. It drives me nuts, people talking about this.’

Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson served as physician to the president during the Obama and Trump administrations, after previously serving in the White House Medical Unit in the George W. Bush administration. Jackson told Fox News Digital following the debate that Biden ‘is not the same man’ from his days as President Obama’s vice president. 

‘In 2020, I was criticizing candidate Joe Biden for his apparent lack of fitness for his first potential term,’ he said. ‘I was in the White House when Joe Biden was VP, and the man we’ve seen since announcing his candidacy is not the same man who was VP for eight years.’

Though other doctors have not examined Biden and released information on his mental and physical state, questions surrounding him having Parkinson’s exploded, with outside doctors weighing in that the president shows classic signs of the brain disorder. 

‘I could have diagnosed him from across the mall,’ Dr. Tom Pitts, a neurologist, recently told NBC News. 

‘He has the classic features of neurodegeneration, word-finding difficulties, and that’s not, ‘Oh, I couldn’t find the word,’ that’s from degeneration of the word retrieval area,’ Pitts said. 

The White House maintains that Biden has not been treated for Parkinson’s and is not currently being treated for the disorder. 

‘Has the president been treated for Parkinson’s? No,’ Jean-Pierre said Monday. ‘Is he being treated for Parkinsons? No, he’s not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson’s? No. So, those are the things that I can give you full-blown answers on.’

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