Vice President Mike Pence prepared to temporarily stand in for Donald Trump during the president's unscheduled visit to Walter Reed hospital in November 2019, according to a sneak peak into an upcoming book by New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt titled Donald Trump v. the United States.
According to CNN, Schmidt writes in the book, due out today, 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 anesthetised."
The White House called Trump's trip a "routine" physical exam and said the president was not "evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues".
However, CNN reported at the time that the visit was out of line with the protocol of a routine presidential medical checkup, since the Maryland hospital had not received a staff-wide notice beforehand.
Trump said that the visit was part of his yearly physical, admitting, however, that it caught First Lady Melania off guard: "I went for a physical, and I came back. My wife said, 'Darling, are you OK? What's wrong? Oh, they're reporting you may have had a heart attack'. I said, 'Why did I have a heart attack?' 'Because you went to Walter Reed Medical Center.' That's where we go when we get the physicals.'"
He went on to blast CNN for fuelling speculation about his health, adding: "These people are sick. They're sick...We have a very corrupt media, and I hope they can get their act straight."