Former President Barack Obama expressed his “disappointment” in a 2020 email to his former doctor for questioning then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s cognitive health, calling it “unprofessional.”
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), the former White House physician who served the last three presidents—George W. Bush, Obama, and Donald Trump—disclosed the email in a forthcoming memoir called “Holding the Line: A Lifetime of Defending Democracy and American Values,” reported Fox News.
In 2020, when Biden was running for president and Jackson himself was running for Congress, the latter shared a video of Biden’s cognitive misadventure on Twitter with the message, “Remember the cognitive test that I gave @realDonaldTrump? The one he aced! Sounds like somebody else might need some testing done!! Scary!!”
Within 20 minutes of his post, Jackson received what he called a “scathing” email from his former boss Obama.
“I have made a point of not commenting on your service in my successor’s administration and have always spoken highly of you both in public and in private,” Obama wrote in the email, calling him “not only a fine doctor and service member but also a friend.”
“That’s why I have to express my disappointment at the cheap shot you took at Joe Biden via Twitter,” the former president continued. “It was unprofessional and beneath the office that you once held. It was also disrespectful to me and the many friends you had in our administration.”
Obama told Jackson that he “expect[s] better, and I hope upon reflection that you will expect more of yourself in the future.”
After contemplating responding to Obama’s email, Jackson said he eventually decided to walk away from it, which ended up being their last contact.
— Ronny Jackson (@RonnyJacksonTX) February 25, 2020
Jackson’s and Obama’s offices didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The email went public just as President Joe Biden mistakenly said on Wednesday that people must keep alive the “honor of the Holocaust” before quickly correcting himself to say the “horror of the Holocaust” during his Israel visit.
Biden’s cognitive state has been in question given his so-called gaffes—both before and after taking office. During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden once said to supporters he was running for the U.S. Senate, not the president.
“This had been going on for months and was getting worse,” Jackson writes in his book. “Trump never made crazy statements like the ones Biden was making almost every day.”
Jackson declared in 2018 that Trump passed a cognitive test with flying colors and was in “excellent” mental shape. According to the physician, the then-president scored a 30 out of 30 after he requested the test in the hopes of easing concerns about his mental fitness, which was at that time widely questioned by the media.
Last November, after Biden underwent a physical examination and colonoscopy, his doctor Kevin O’Connor said the 46th president “remains fit for duty,” without specifying whether Biden took a cognitive exam.
Jackson was among the 38 Republican lawmakers that requested Biden in a February letter to take a cognitive test, saying it’s beyond “a partisan issue,” following the example set by his White House predecessor.
The president, turning 80 this November, is reportedly losing confidence among the party, as a recent New York Times poll shows 64 percent of Democratic primary voters said they would prefer a different presidential nominee in 2024. The majority cited the president’s age as their main concern.