Book: Pence Was On Standby To Take Over During Trump’s Unexpected Hospital Visit

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead / Public Domain


Vice President Pence reportedly was put on standby to take over in case President Trump required anesthesia.

When President Donald Trump made an unexpected visit to Walter Reed Medical Center on November 16, 2019, Vice President Mike Pence was put on standby to temporarily take over presidential powers in case Trump required anesthesia, a new book claims.

  • The revelation was made in New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt’s book, "Donald Trump v. the United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President.”
  • CNN noted that the White House at the time of the visit that “Trump had undergone a ‘quick exam and labs’ as part of his annual physical out of anticipation of a ‘very busy 2020.’”
  • But Schmidt reports in his book that he learned "in the hours leading up to Trump's trip to the hospital, word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be 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 anesthetized."
  • CNN reported that Schmidt offers no source for this information other than to say, “I learned.”

While Pence did not ultimately assume the powers of the presidency, according to Schmidt, the account raises fresh questions about the reason for Trump's unscheduled visit.

The visit did not follow the protocol of a routine presidential medical exam, a person familiar with the matter told CNN at the time. Medical staff at Walter Reed did not get a staff-wide notice about a presidential visit to the medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, ahead of Trump's arrival, according to that source.

  • The news outlet noted that Walter Reed medical staff typically “would get a general notice about a ‘VIP’ visit to the medical center ahead of a presidential arrival, notifying them of certain closures at the facility” — which did not occur on the day of Trump’s 2019 visit.

Read the full report.


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