White House Doctor Avoids Confirming Trump Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine; Press Secretary Dodges On Why

President Donald Trump said during a round table discussion Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19. The immediate response included warnings to consumers that no one should try using the medication without consulting a doctor, and mass speculation about the claim. Viewers questioned whether Trump is really taking the meds, and whether a doctor really prescribed them without a diagnosed illness. The White House has released a note from Trump’s doctor, but its vagueness led to more questions.

Trump hydroxychloroquinine
[Photo by Doug Mills – Pool/Getty Images]

Trump’s full comments on taking hydroxychloroquine can be seen in the White House transcript here. Below, see a few relevant portions.

Q: You’re taking hydroxychloroquine?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m taking it — hydroxychloroquine.

Q: Did the White House doctor recommend that you take that? Is that why you’re taking it?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. A White House doctor — didn’t recommend — no, I asked him, “What do you think?” He said, “Well, if you’d like it.” I said, “Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it.”

As the public discussed and debated whether the drug is safe for use outside clinical settings, and whether Trump is really taking it, the White House released a page from a memo issued by Dr. Sean P. Conley. White House correspondent Anita Kumar, for Politico, shared the page publicly.

The note says that the president is in good health and has tested negative for COVID-19, then addresses the malaria drug.

After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.

The doctor goes on to say that he continues to monitor studies of possible COVID-19 treatments, and that in the future he “anticipate[s] employing the same shared medical decision making.”

What the doctor does not say in the memo page is that he prescribed hydroxychloroquine to President Trump, or that the president is taking the medication.

CBS reporter Paula Reid shared a clip later of Kayleigh McEnany responding to questions about the vagueness of the letter. McEnany briefly, at the beginning, says she can confirm Trump is taking the medication, but then dodges, instead telling reporters that it’s a fact that Trump made the statement.

Well the president said himself that he’s taking. That’s a given fact that he said it. The purpose of this letter was to show that Dr. Conley agreed with the analysis….the president should be taken at his word, and the purpose of this letter was to show just that.

Though she initially says, “Yes, I can absolutely confirm that,” most of McEnany’s response dodges any confirmation of anything Trump or the Conley memo said. Instead, she says people should trust Trump’s word, and emphasizes that the letter shows the doctor agreed with Trump’s analysis of the drug’s safety and efficacy. In 2015, USA Today reports, Trump’s former doctor admitted to releasing statements about Trump’s health that were dictated to him by the president.

In his round table event, Trump said that he currently takes a pill every day, but hopes to be able to stop soon, when a vaccine is available. When asked about the evidence that the medication has a preventative effect, Trump said, “Here we go. Are you ready? Here’s my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it.” He went on to suggest that the study done in the VA, which, according to Physicians Weekly, actually showed increased mortality with the drug, was only negative because “people that aren’t big Trump fans gave it.”

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