Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician who is under fire for holding back information about the president’s medical regimen, was ‘hand-picked’ for the job by predecessor Dr. Ronny Jackson.
Conley has drawn sharp criticism for his weekend press conferences, undertaken outside Walter Reed medical center while the president undergoes treatment for COVID-19. He initially held back information about the president going on artificial oxygen, and has declined to disclose information about the state of the president’s lungs.
He also prescribed the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to the president as a preventive treatment for the coronavirus, and appears to have signed off on the president’s short trip in an SUV outside of Walter Reed with agents in tow to waive to supporters despite having the coronavirus.
Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, briefs reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Conley was recommended for his post by predecessor Dr. Ronny Jackson
He stated Sunday when pressed about his optimistic statements about the president’s health only later to reveal the president’s blood oxydenation levels had twice dropped below normal.
‘I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, over his course of illness,’ Conley said. ‘I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.’
Conley, 40, was elevated after assuming his post on an acting basis after the departure of Dr. Ronny Jackson, who in February 2019 declared Trump in ‘very good health’ despite being clinically obese.
Trump tapped Jackson to run the Veterans Affairs Department, only to have the nomination blow up.
Opon Jackson’s departure, the longtime White House physician ‘hand-picked’ Conley to succeed him, NBC News reported. The director of White House operations recommended Conley get the job. He was then the senior doctor in the White HOuse medical unit.
The promotion happened ‘without proper vetting,’ a member of the White House medical team told NBC.
Conley appeared Saturday and Sunday with members of the president’s medical team
Dr. Ronny Jackson called Trump in ‘very good health’ in 2019
Trump’s longtime personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, issued an over-the-top letter vouching for Trump’s health during the 2016 campaign that he later said Trump had dictated to him
President Donald Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson as he boards Marine One as he leaves Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, after his first medical check-up as president
Conley is a doctor of osteopathic medicine, having obtained medical training in a field that also promotes spinal and skeletal manipulations as treatment. He received Navy training in emergency medicine, and spent six months at a military medical facility in Afghanistan.
During his residency, he won the ‘Nurse’s Choice Award,’ the Washington Post reported.
Conley accompanied President Trump on his November 2019 unscheduled trip to Walter Reed.
Conley, a Navy commander, issued a statement saying the visit was ‘for a routine, planned interim checkup.’
He said Trump had not had any chest pain, ‘nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues’ but provided little information about the visit, prompting questions about whether the president had experienced a serious event.
Conley did not provide any medical briefing for the press on Friday, after the early morning revelation that Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
When he did speak on Saturday, he repeatedly dodged questions about whether the president had been given oxygen, saying: ‘He’s not on oxygen right now.’
It was only on Sunday that he revealed there were two instances when Trump’s oxygenation levels dropped below 94 per cent, which is below the normal level of above 95.
On Saturday, he stated: ‘Yesterday and today he was not on oxygen.’ But on Sunday he said Trump had in fact been on oxygen Friday morning, when he said the level was ‘transiently dipping below 94 per cent.’
Conley refused to provide specifics when asked about the president’s x-rays, scans, and pneumonia.
‘We’re tracking all of that. There are some expected findings but nothing of any major clinical concern,’ he said.
Earlier this year, Conley prescribed hydroxychloroquine for Trump. It is an anti-malarial drug that has been studied for possible benefits for people who have the coronavirus, but several studies have shown it does not have value.
Conley also appears to have cleared Trump’s ‘joy-ride’ to greet supporters outside Walter Reed, despite the president having the coronavirus.
‘The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do,’ said White House spokesman Judd Deere Sunday.