White House physician Sean Conley draws scrutiny for rosy assessments of Trump’s health

Without sharing details, the White House’s top medical officer said the pressures of the job were weighing on him, according to two people familiar with his remarks.

Conley now finds himself at the epicenter of the most acute crisis to confront a White House physician in decades: President Trump’s hospitalization after contracting a lethal virus whose risks the president has repeatedly minimized.

Conley’s handling of the situation has come under intense criticism after he gave a rosy pronouncement of Trump’s status Saturday without disclosing that the president had been given supplemental oxygen or put on a steroid reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients.

The White House physician finally disclosed those details Sunday, acknowledging that Trump’s oxygen level had dropped at one point. He said that he had not shared the information initially because he did not want to cause alarm.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, over his course of illness, has had,” 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. . . . The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”

But long before the president contracted a virus especially lethal to older people, some of Conley’s former colleagues said they were disappointed in what they view as his lack of independence from White House politics.

“Every statement he is giving appears to be political, dictated by the White House or the president,” said one person who has worked with him, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the White House. “These are not the statements a medical doctor gives.”

Conley did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement, White House spokesman Judd Deere said, “The fact that this publication has chosen to write a hit piece on the President’s physician, who is an officer in the U.S. Navy, at this critical time is outright disgusting and irresponsible.”

Deere added that Conley is an eminently qualified and “talented physician with a wealth of experience well-suited to serve President Trump and ensure he fully recovers from COVID-19 and remains very healthy to continue his work on behalf of the American people,” he added.

Questions about Conley began bubbling this spring when he treated Trump with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial treatment touted by the president as a wonder drug, even as some studies showed it could increase the risk for some patients. In a May 18 memo, Conley said he concluded that “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”

The White House has also repeatedly cited Conley in statements asserting that the administration was properly mitigating the risks of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, despite the fact that the president and his aides have eschewed masks and held public gatherings. In March, after a

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White House Spokesperson Alyssa Farah Admits Dr. Sean Conley Lied to Make Trump Feel Better on Fox News

White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah faced some unexpectedly tough questions about President Donald Trump’s medical condition during an interview on Fox News Sunday afternoon. And in the process, she admitted that the president’s physician Dr. Sean Conley deliberately misled the American people to make his patient feel better.

Fox anchor Trace Gallagher highlighted the “confusion” and “mixed messaging coming from the White House and coming from the doctors,” asking Farah, “Why hasn’t the White House come out and just cleared the deck, cleared up all this stuff and said, you know, this is the way it is, here’s what happened and kind of given everybody a tick-tock of what happened from the beginning when he was confirmed with coronavirus until today?”

Farah said the administration was “striving to be as transparent” as they can and claimed Dr. Conley’s comments have been “accurate” throughout. But as Gallagher pointed out, the confusion has more to do with the information Conley has “omitted” from his briefings.

“And even today, he kind of came out and he acknowledged, well, he was doing that because he was trying to put on a brave face,” the anchor said.

In his latest comments to the press, the doctor said, “I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president over the course of his illness, has had,” adding, “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.”

“It’s a very common medical practice that you want to convey confidence,” Farah claimed. “And you want to raise the spirits of the person you are treating. I know this president. I don’t know that he needs his spirits raised but I think it’s actually a very common medical practice to do that.”

“But is it also a common medical practice to put the proper information out there, put all the information out there, and to let people make up their own minds?” Gallagher shot back.

After brushing that question aside, Farah pivoted to boast about how hard the president is supposedly working through his illness from Walter Reed hospital.

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Read the letter from White House physician Dr. Sean Conley about Trump’s Covid diagnosis

Here’s the letter from the White House physician about President Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus test:

MEMORANDUM FOR: KAYLEIGH MCENANY, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY

FROM: SEAN P. CONLEY, DO, FACEP, PHYSICIAN TO THE PRESIDENT, COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY

SUBJECT: President Donald J. Trump & First Lady Melania Trump’s COVID-19 Tests

I release the following information with the permission of President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

This evening I received confirmation that both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.

The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions.

Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and alerts on Trump’s Covid diagnosis

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Illinois 6th District House election preview: Sean Casten vs. Jeanne Ives

  • First-term Rep. Sean Casten will face Republican Jeanne Ives in Illinois’ 6th Congressional District.
  • The district is located in northeastern Illinois and is home to parts of Lake, McHenry, Cook, DuPage, and Kane counties.
  • With $3 million in cash on hand, Casten has over six times more capital to spend approaching the election.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

 

First-term Rep. Sean Casten is looking to defend his freshly-won House seat against Republican Jeanne Ives in Illinois’ 6th Congressional District this fall. 

The candidates

Before going into politics, Casten primarily worked with companies associated with clean energy. He served as the president and CEO of Turbosteam Corporation, a company that works to lower greenhouse gas emissions by generating power from wasted electricity. He is the founder and former CEO of Recycled Energy Development, which attempted to find a profitable solution to wasted heat capture technologies.

In 2018, Casten defeated 6-term incumbent Rep. Peter Roskam to represent Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, one of the many Democrats who flipped suburban House seats back into Democratic hands that year. In Congress, Casten serves on the powerful House Financial Services Committee, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. 

Ives, Casten’s challenger, is a veteran of the U.S. Army and former 3-term member of the Illinois House of Representatives. 

The district

Illinois’ 6th Congressional District is located in northeastern Illinois and includes portions of Lake, McHenry, Cook, DuPage, and Kane counties. The district is home to parts of West Chicago and some of Chicago’s western suburbs. Casten is the first Democrat to represent the district since Republican Rep. Harold R. Collier took office in 1973.

The district is one of a dozen nationwide that flipped from backing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. After backing Romney by over eight points in 2012, the district voted for Clinton over now-President Donald Trump in a 50-43 percent split.

The money race

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Casten has raised $3.8 million for his campaign – over twice as much as Ives with $1.6 million. Ives currently has only $502,000 in cash on hand remaining, widely trailing behind Casten who has $3 million on hand.

What experts say

The race between Casten and Ives is rated as “safe Democratic” by Inside Elections and The Cook Political Report and “likely Democratic” by Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

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