The White House announced that President Joe Biden will temporarily transfer power on Friday to Vice President Kamala Harris while he undergoes a colonoscopy under anesthesia during his annual physical.
Harris will work from her West Wing office at the White House while the president undergoes his colonoscopy, press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Biden traveled to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Friday morning for a physical, one day before his 79th birthday. The oldest person ever elected to the White House, Biden has been subject to questions of his mental acuity that have tugged away at his approval ratings.
Psaki said the White House would release a summary of the president’s physical later Friday.
Harris will follow protocols used twice during the presidency of George W. Bush when he had the same procedure, Psaki said in her statement. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, also served as acting president in 1985 while President Ronald Reagan had surgery to treat colon cancer.
Presidents throughout U.S. history have grappled with the desire to maintain some level of medical privacy — including sometimes dramatically obfuscating their condition — with the public’s right to know about the health of its leader.
Former White House press secretary and chief of staff to the first lady Stephanie Grisham hinted earlier this year that in 2019 then-President Donald Trump received a colonoscopy that was never revealed to the public while in office.
The book also speculates that the former president did not undergo aesthesia so he would not have hand over power, even temporarily, to his vice president and kept the procedure under wraps so as not to be fodder for jokes at Trump’s expense.