CNN  — 

President Donald Trump’s unannounced visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last weekend spurred speculation about his health from the public, and from doctors. In a statement late Monday night, the White House doctor said that the President underwent “a routine, planned” checkup and attributed “scheduling uncertainties” for keeping the trip off the record.

Trump himself addressed the visit during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, saying, “I went for a physical on Saturday” because he had extra time. It was the first time he had been seen in public since that weekend’s visit.

We know that Trump is 73 years old, has heart disease and is clinically obese. For any man of that age and medical history, an unexpected visit to the hospital is concerning.

Over the past week, I have spoken to doctors who’ve previously worked at the White House and those who are currently in touch with the White House. They all say that what happened last weekend is unusual: an unscheduled hospital visit for what was characterized as very routine testing – testing that could have been done at the White House.

A surprise visit to Walter Reed

Given that the White House had previously given plenty of advance notice about the President’s past physical exams, last weekend’s visit to Walter Reed reportedly took everyone by surprise, including much of the staff at the hospital itself. Whenever the President is planning a visit to Walter Reed, an institution-wide notice goes out, making staff aware of certain road and corridor closings. According to a person familiar with the matter, that didn’t happen last weekend.

Also striking: the fact that the president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, rode with Trump in the presidential motorcade. Typically, the doctor rides separately from the President for security reasons. A former White House doctor told me it had never happened during their time there.

Typically, the president's physician rides separately for security reasons.

I reached out to the White House to get further clarification on what testing or procedures had been done at Walter Reed hospital.

In return, we received on Monday evening a memo from Conley, who wrote “Despite some of the speculation, The President has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues. Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.”

"The President has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues," according to a memo from Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the President.

Despite Conley’s memo, there are reasons why questions continue about President Trump’s unannounced visit to Walter Reed.

For starters, all the tests Conley described could’ve been performed at the White House instead of the hospital. Many blood tests require the patient to fast overnight and are thus performed first thing in the morning – not in the middle of the afternoon, as apparently happened with the President.

And remember, the President had these tests just nine months ago. One of the reasons doctors wait a year to order labs for a routine physical is to better assess the impact of medication and lifestyle changes over a consistent interval of time. There is no benefit to drawing the blood early, unless there is a concern about something.

Finally, there is no such thing as a phased physical exam, as Trump had described it in his tweet from last weekend.

In Conley’s memo, he described the visit as a “routine, planned interim checkup,” not a “physical exam.” Dr. Jennifer Peña, who served as a physician to Vice President Mike Pence until 2018, told CNN’s Jeremy Diamond that these two characterizations are significantly different.

“Routine annual is where we do a comprehensive history and physical exam, with any necessary labs and studies,” she said, while noting that an “interim checkup” suggests a “follow up” visit for a condition or medication that is being monitored.

As both a physician and a reporter who has covered four administrations, none of this adds up, and it raises the question: What do we really know about President Trump’s health?

An astonishing bill of health

Take a look back at what we’ve been told about Trump’s health over the years.

I’ve reported in the past about doctors who seemed to cater to Trump’s whims. One doctor who treated the President signed his name on a letter he later said Trump dictated. Another doctor said that he might live to be 200 years old.

When Trump was running for office in 2015, his campaign issued a letter from Trump’s then-personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, who wrote “His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” Bornstein added, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”