Schmidt writes, however, that he learned “in the hours leading up to Trump’s trip to the hospital, word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized.” Schmidt does not specify the sourcing for this reporting beyond “I learned.”
The White House declined to comment on the record to CNN about the report.
While Pence did not ultimately assume the powers of the presidency, according to Schmidt, the account raises fresh questions about the reason for Trump’s unscheduled visit.
Typically, Walter Reed’s medical staff would get a general notice about a “VIP” visit to the medical center ahead of a presidential arrival, notifying them of certain closures at the facility. That did not happen this time, indicating the visit was a non-routine visit and scheduled at the last minute.
The source told CNN it was possible a small group of doctors involved in Trump’s medical exams were notified before Trump arrived, but that all medical staff at Walter Reed would typically be aware if the President was arriving for a routine medical exam.