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The Case For Congress Subpoenaing Biden’s Medical Records

Congressional lawmakers have every reason to demand access to President Joe Biden’s medical records.

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The days since the first presidential debate, which featured Joe Biden making a series of incoherent and rambling remarks, have drawn increased attention to the 25th Amendment and Biden’s constitutional fitness to remain in office. Rep. Chip Roy has pointed out that only Vice President Kamala Harris can start the process for invoking the amendment’s provisions regarding presidential incapacity.

But Congress has a role too. Lawmakers have every reason to demand access to Biden’s medical records. Doing so would provide more clarity on the president’s current mental state and shed some light on how the White House staff — not to mention a complicit media — have shielded a diminished chief executive from public scrutiny.

Troubling Interview

Put aside Biden’s physical appearance in his Friday interview with George Stephanopoulos. Likewise, set aside the emotional, even tragic, circumstances of a president having to do an interview for the sole purpose of defending his mental competency or Biden’s seeming denial of the dire political situation he faces.

While Biden looked more lucid and coherent in his interview Friday than in the debate, his memory still failed him on several occasions within a 22-minute question-and-answer session. He could not recall whether he watched a replay of last week’s debate — the very reason why he had to do the interview in the first place. He couldn’t remember that Stephanopoulos worked for Bill Clinton, searching in vain for the specific president’s name and then settling for the more generic “in the government.” And he got confused about the polls that have him significantly trailing Donald Trump.

Particularly after last week’s debate, these repeated incidents in a relatively short interview do not inspire confidence in the current president’s condition, let alone his potential condition four years hence.

Need to Investigate

Before the debate, CNN medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote a column calling on Biden to take a series of cognitive tests. Gupta noted that he had received more than a dozen messages from fellow physicians specializing in brain health who had concerns about Biden’s performance.

From a neurological standpoint, they were concerned with his confused rambling, sudden loss of concentration in the middle of a sentence, halting speech, and absence of facial animation, resulting at times in a flat, open-mouthed expression. To be clear, these are only observations, not in any way diagnostic of something deeper, and none of these doctors wished to suggest that was the case.

While the doctors did not feel comfortable diagnosing a condition based solely on the debate footage, they did feel uncomfortable enough to suggest that “the president should be encouraged to undergo detailed cognitive and movement disorder testing, and those results should be made available to the public.”

Of course, Congress cannot force Biden to undergo such testing, even if the cabinet tries to remove him under the 25th Amendment. But Congress can potentially subpoena Biden’s existing medical records to find out if the president’s taxpayer-funded physician has privately raised any concerns that have yet to become public. It appears such records may exist, given that the New York Post reported over the weekend that Biden’s physician met with a neurologist (and expert in Parkinson’s disease) at the White House earlier this year.

An investigation should also examine whether and how Biden’s closest staffers have tried to create a “Potemkin presidency” by hiding his medical condition from the public and/or assuming duties properly reserved for the duly elected chief executive. During the debate, tens of millions of Americans saw some of their worst fears about the president’s condition materialize before their eyes; they have every right to know what led to this fiasco. 

The fact that staffers — in this case, from the president’s reelection campaign — felt the need to feed radio hosts questions regarding two interviews that Biden did on Friday demonstrates the stage-managed nature of this presidency, to say nothing of the media’s complicity. It should raise additional questions about how government staffers have used taxpayer funds to further this “conspiracy of silence.” 

No Reason to Object

Conservative critics might raise questions about this strategy, for both substantive and tactical reasons. On the substance, some may worry that Congress subpoenaing a president’s medical records could set a precedent Democrats could use against Donald Trump as soon as this coming January. On a more tactical and cynical level, some conservatives may object to taking any action that could hasten Biden’s withdrawal from the campaign, on the theory that any replacement would prove a tougher opponent for Trump.

That last argument holds little water when viewed against the possibility that someone in charge of the nuclear codes could have debilitating conditions that make him a potential liability in a national security crisis. In this case, the safety of the country should come well before any petty political concerns. Congress does have a role to play in getting to the bottom of this fiasco — and the sooner it does, the better.


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