WASHINGTON — President Biden has selected his longtime physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, to serve as his doctor in the White House, an official said on Monday.
Dr. O’Connor, a retired Army colonel, succeeds Dr. Sean P. Conley in a role that drew unusual scrutiny during President Donald J. Trump’s administration amid accusations that he and his predecessor had exaggerated Mr. Trump’s health.
At 78, Mr. Biden is the oldest president in United States history. His selection of Dr. O’Connor brings aboard a doctor with whom he has a longstanding personal relationship.
Dr. O’Connor was the physician to Mr. Biden when he was vice president and continued to serve as his physician after he left office. “He’s never asked me if I am a Republican or a Democrat,” Dr. O’Connor once said of Mr. Biden.
An osteopathic physician, Dr. O’Connor began serving as a doctor at the White House in 2006, when President George W. Bush was in office.
In December 2019, Mr. Biden’s campaign released a three-page memo from Dr. O’Connor in which he described Mr. Biden as “healthy” and “vigorous,” adding that he was “fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency, to include those as chief executive, head of state and commander in chief.”
Three decades earlier, Mr. Biden, then a senator from Delaware, had a life-threatening health scare. In 1988, just months after ending his first presidential bid, he had emergency surgery for a brain aneurysm. He had another operation months later for a second brain aneurysm and returned to the Senate that year after a lengthy absence. Dr. O’Connor wrote in his 2019 memo that Mr. Biden “has never had any recurrences of any aneurysms.”
More recently, after Mr. Biden’s election in November, Dr. O’Connor provided information about Mr. Biden’s condition after he slipped while playing with one of his dogs and fractured his foot.
Dr. O’Connor’s hiring was reported earlier on Monday by ABC News. His predecessor, Dr. Conley, was thrust in the spotlight after Mr. Trump announced in early October that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was subsequently hospitalized. But Dr. Conley quickly drew criticism for making misleading comments about Mr. Trump’s condition; one infectious disease expert described him as “a spin doctor, not a medical doctor,” and Dr. Conley admitted that he had sought to “reflect the upbeat attitude” of Mr. Trump.
Dr. Conley is being reassigned in the Navy, according to the official who confirmed Dr. O’Connor’s hiring.
Dr. Conley succeeded Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, who had spoken in glowing terms about Mr. Trump’s health. He declared in 2018 that the former president had “incredible genes” and said, “I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old.”
Later that year, Mr. Trump nominated Dr. Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jackson withdrew from consideration after accusations of inappropriate workplace behavior, and Mr. Trump later named him as his chief medical adviser.
Dr. Jackson is now serving in Washington in a different capacity: as a member of Congress. In November, he was elected to the House as a Republican from Texas.