Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, criticized the Trump administration over its disclosure of President Donald Trump’s health status amid his COVID-19 diagnosis in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
“Now the country is confronted with a president suffering from a potentially deadly virus,” Davis wrote in an op-ed published Sunday by the newspaper. “Instead of accurate and complete information, Americans are receiving only sketchy details and evasive answers.”
Davis reflected on her father’s hospitalization in the aftermath of his 1981 shooting, comparing the response of the Reagan administration to that of the Trump administration.
“When you’re president, privacy is not an option — including, and maybe especially, privacy about your health. That’s a lesson my father’s administration understood, and that President Trump and his advisers still need to learn,” she wrote.
Davis, who is an author, described the country being in a “state of shock” and recalled that “the media was scrambling to put out accurate information” at the time her father was shot.
“The White House was in shock, but it didn’t have the luxury of time,” she added.
One of the hospital’s administrators, Dennis O’Leary, had been chosen by Reagan’s assistant to brief the media on Reagan’s condition after he came out of surgery. But, O’Leary “misspoke about how close the bullet came to my father’s heart and neglected to say that the bullet had torn through a lung,” Davis wrote of the 1981 attempted assassination of Regan by John Hinckley Jr.
She also noted that the White House did not invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president to take on the president’s role if they are unable to do their job, when her father went under anesthesia. (If the Trump administration were to implement the 25th Amendment, the line to the presidency would be Vice President Mike Pence, followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate.)
Davis argued that the Reagan administration learned from its missteps, resulting in the White House’s decision to thoroughly inform the nation about Reagan’s colon cancer surgery four years later.
Video: Presidential Debate Marked By Chaos, Personal Insults, Interrruptions (CBS SF Bay Area)
Quoting Trump’s own communications team, she called on the current administration to do the same as her father’s did in 1985.
“‘It’s a common medical practice that you want to convey confidence,’ White House communications director Alyssa Farah told Fox News on Sunday. This fundamentally misunderstands the challenge and the role of medical briefings: It is not to reassure either the patient or the American people, it is to provide them with clear and reliable information,” Davis wrote.
“Regardless of what any of us think of the man holding the highest office in the land, his health, his fitness, his ability to be present and accounted for, has everything to do with our safety as a nation,” she continued. “It has to do with our trust in the government. And that trust is being eroded — at the worst possible time.”
White House doctor Sean Conley came under fire over the weekend for making misleading comments on the president’s medical condition — remarks that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows contradicted a day later during his own press briefing.
During his Saturday briefing outside the Walter Reed Medical Center, Conley failed to disclose that Trump had been administered oxygen during his hospitalization. The doctor said he withheld the information to reflect the “upbeat attitude” of the White House.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not hear back before publication.
Former assistant press secretary to Ronald Reagan, Mark Weinberg, argued the Trump administration’s handling of the president’s diagnosis is failing the American public.
“I think they have something to hide and I think they are under extreme pressure from President Trump to not say anything that would cost him votes in the campaign for reelection,” Weinberg told CNN on Sunday.
“As a result, they are being not forthcoming. They are being dishonest. They’re being disingenuous and they’re not serving the country or the president for that matter,” he added.
David Gergen, a former presidential adviser to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton told CNN that Trump’s efforts to hide his health status will have the reverse effect that the president is aiming for.
“He always wants to come out looking strong. He thinks it gives him more political leverage and what it does instead, over time, is it undercuts his credibility, and I think over time, makes him look weak,” Gergen said.
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