Vice President Mike Pence was ready to assume the role of an acting president during President Donald Trump‘s unannounced trip to Walter Reed hospital in November 2019, according to the forthcoming book by the New York TimesMichael Schmidt.

“In the hours leading up to Trump’s trip to the hospital, word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized,” Schmidt wrote. 

Following the report, Pence on Tuesday deflected commenting on the claim.

“I don’t recall being told to be on standby,” Pence told Fox News. “I was informed that the president had a doctor’s appointment, I’ve got to tell you, part of this job is you are always on standby if you are Vice President of the United States.”

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The reason for Trump’s visit has been unknown, although there were rumors – which weren’t verified or reported by reputable media outlets – that he suffered from mini-strokes at the time of his visit last year. Trump himself seemed to confirm the idea when he tweeted a denial about the strokes on Friday. 

In response, Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley released a statement through the White House.

“The President remains healthy and I have no concerns about his ability to maintain the rigorous schedule ahead of him,” Conley said. “As stated in my last report, I expect him to remain fit to execute the duties of the Presidency.”

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