President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his mental fitness to hold office and described the exam he allegedly took assessing his cognitive capabilities, claiming the doctors administering it were amazed by his ability to recall a simple string of words.
In an interview with Fox News medical contributor Marc Siegel, the president said he asked his physician upon his last hospital visit “a little less than a year ago” whether there was “some kind of a cognitive test that I could take” in order to “shut these people up,” referring to critics who had questioned his mental acuity.
“It was 30 or 35 questions. The first questions are very easy. The last questions are much more difficult. Like a memory question,” Trump continued. “It’s like you’ll go, ‘Person, woman, man, camera, TV.’ So they say, ‘Could you repeat that?’ So I said, ‘Yeah.’ So it’s, ‘Person, woman, man, camera, TV.’ OK, that’s very good. If you get it in order, you get extra points.”
Then, “10 minutes, 15, 20 minutes later” in the cognitive exam, “they say, ‘Remember the first question?’ Not the first, but the tenth question. ‘Give us that again. Can you do that again?’ And you go, ‘Person, woman, man, camera, TV,’” Trump recounted.
The president said the doctors had warned him “nobody gets it in order,” and he assessed that “it’s actually not that easy. But for me, it was easy.” Trump also emphasized that the medical professionals administering the exam “don’t tell you” they plan on asking patients to repeat the word series, and said they were impressed by him doing so.
“‘Can you do it?’ And you go, ‘Person, woman, man, camera, TV,’” Trump said. “They say, ‘That’s amazing, how did you do that?’ I do it because I have, like, a good memory. Because I’m cognitively there.”
The president revealed earlier this month to Fox News host Sean Hannity that he had “very recently” taken a cognitive exam at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, saying he had “aced it.” In an interview last weekend with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump elaborated further on the exam.
“Yes, the first few questions are easy, but I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. I bet you couldn’t. They get very hard, the last five questions,” Trump said. Wallace told the president he had taken the exam himself, and reported that the assorted questions asked patients to identify an elephant and count backward from 100.
The president did not directly contradict Wallace’s characterization of the exam, only deeming the veteran journalist’s account to be “all misrepresentation.”