Did Trump Flatline Or What?

Image: Getty

Did Donald Trump, a man famed for his love of hamburgers, diet Coke, and the most sedentary of “physical” activities (golf), have a heart attack this past Saturday? This is all pure speculation, but I can confidently say... probably not, but maybe!

The rumor began circulating when Trump made an unannounced visit to the Walter Reed Medical Center this weekend for a two-hour visit, for what the White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham characterized as a “quick exam and labs” and “portions of his routine annual physical exam,” because annual check-ups are now, apparently, multi-part procedures that occur over a span of several months.

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Later that night (or early on Sunday morning, depending on your perspective), Trump tweeted out that he “began phase one of my yearly physical:”

But as NBC News pointed out, this explanation is completely at odds with how the president’s physical is usually conducted, as well as announced to the public:

Trump, 73, had no public events on his calendar Saturday and no advance guidance was given that he would be getting any kind of medical exam. Trump’s prior two physical exams as president were on the public schedule and advance warning was provided. In addition, those exams did not take place in multiple “phases.” Trump’s most recent physical was in February.

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And as a source told CNN, his visit was unusual in other respects:

Medical staff at Walter Reed did not get a staff-wide notice about a presidential visit to the medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, ahead of Trump’s arrival, according to that source.

Typically, Walter Reed’s medical staff would get a general notice about a “VIP” visit to the medical center ahead of a presidential visit, notifying them of certain closures at the facility. That did not happen this time, indicating the visit was a non-routine visit and scheduled last minute.

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Suspicious, no?

On Tuesday, Donald Trump told reporters that despite being a man in fairly poor heart health who is also old and has the eating habits of a picky toddler, no, he did NOT have a heart attack, okay???

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He shared that Melania was so concerned that she called him “darling.” “My wife Melania said, ‘Darling, are you OK? Oh, they are reporting you may have had a heart attack,’” Trump said. “I said, ‘Why did I have a heart attack?’ ‘Because you went to Walter Reed Medical Center.’ That’s where we go when we get the physical. I said I was only there for a very short period of time.”

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He continued: “I was called by our people in public relations: ‘Sir, are you OK?’ I said ‘OK for what?’ ‘The word is you had a heart attack. CNN said you may have had a heart attack. You had massive chest pains. You went to the hospital.’”

As far as I can tell (and please tell me if I’m wrong), CNN did not report that Trump may have had a heart attack, merely pointing out in its reporting that Trump is known to have heart disease, which as CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta—a man incidentally I have trusted ever since I was a wee lass—wrote in February 2018, may lead to a heart attack if Trump doesn’t make what he called “necessary lifestyle changes.” Trump, he wrote, “has a moderate risk of having a heart attack in the next three to five years.” While it has only been one year since Gupta made that pronouncement, it is a year that in fact has felt like 10 years, which is perfectly within the timeframe that Gupta laid out.

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But the scant evidence we do have, I’m afraid, points to the fact that Trump did not actually flatline on Saturday—a two-hour visit in which someone is able to leave on their own two feet is far from the typical two-day or longer hospital stay for heart attack patients.

This does not mean, however, that Trump didn’t suffer another mysterious ailment that required him to zoom off to Walter Reed.

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Perhaps it was an extreme case of flatulence? A panic attack induced by the dawning realization that he in fact may be impeached? A pus-filled boil on his pasty backside that required immediate medical attention? What do you think happened?

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About the author

Esther Wang

Senior staff writer, Jezebel