Public Disclosure of Presidential Illnesses

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Is the White House releasing timely and accurate information about the President’s medical condition? There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. This White House is anything but a model of transparency. Moreover, as detailed in this David Priess article in Lawfare, “candor about presidential ailments has been more the exception than the rule.” Throughout history, presidential administrations “have routinely and often blatantly withheld crucial medical diagnoses and data from public view.”

From the article:

Four of Trump’s 43 predecessors ultimately died of natural causes while in office, and many more of them faced serious illnesses or other disabling conditions during at least part of their tenure. Uncertainty about this president’s health, however, remains higher than most, even after significant advances in press reporting on medical issues. Mystery, for example, still surrounds Trump’s unannounced trip to Walter Reed in November 2019.

Legitimate security concerns understandably would limit public disclosure of minute-by-minute developments in a deathbed situation, but the president’s health appears to remain far from that scenario. This rough start and the history of presidential ailments combine to suggest that Americans shouldn’t expect robust public disclosures. Depending on how Trump’s illness progresses, months, even years, could pass before the truth comes out.

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