Biden performed a colonoscopy, resuming operations after a transfer to Harris


During the colonoscopy, a single 3 mm benign-appearing polyp was identified and “removed without difficulty,” Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, wrote in a summary of the president’s medical exam released by the White House. An evaluation of the polyp is expected to be done by early next week, O’Connor said.

O’Connor, who said Biden has displayed such symptoms “for as long as I have known him,” said an otolaryngology exam found no polyps or tumors and a gastroenterology exam found no signs of ulcers, cancer or other serious conditions. A lung examination came back normal.

Biden’s physical was not listed on his public schedule and was announced just hours before he traveled to the hospital in Bethesda, Md. 

Temporary transfer of power to Harris 

Story Highlights

  • Biden underwent the procedure during a routine physical at Walter Reed Medical Center. 

  • The physical, conducted a day before the president’s 79th birthday, found Biden to be in overall good health, according to the summary. O’Connor acknowledged Biden’s persistent coughing and throat-clearing, which has been evident during some of his speeches.  O’Connor said the cough is likely a symptom of gastroesophageal reflex, which may also contribute to occasional sinus congestion.

As required by the 25th Amendment in the Constitution, Biden sent a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., president pro tempore of the Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stating that he was unable to discharge his duties while under anesthesia, temporarily transferring power to Harris.

Harris, the nation’s first woman vice president, served as the first woman to assume presidential power. She served in the capacity for 85 minutes.

More:House passes Biden’s Build Back Better bill, sending measure with free preschool, climate initiatives to the Senate “As was the case when President George W. Bush had the same procedure in 2002 and 2007, and following the process set out in the Constitution, President Biden will transfer power to the Vice President for the brief period of time when he is under anesthesia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement earlier on Friday. “The Vice President will work from her office in the West Wing during this time.”

The president spoke with Harris and chief of staff Ron Klain at approximately 11:35 a.m., Psaki said in a statement, and resumed his duties at that time. Growing disagreement about Biden’s health among Americans

Former President Donald Trump underwent a colonoscopy as president, but he refused to go under anesthesia, former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote in a new book, because he did not want to hand power to then-Vice President Mike Pence. Former Barack Obama was screened for colorectal cancer but did not undergo a colonoscopy as president. Biden is the oldest person ever elected to the presidency in the U.S. Since he became president, the White House has repeatedly said Biden would receive a physical exam in 2021, and the results would be released to the public. 

Ahead of the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, the Biden campaign released a summary of Biden’s medical history in December 2019. At the time, O’Connor said he was a “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male” fit to be president.  The three-page report said Biden’s most significant medical event was brain aneurysms he had in 1988 but that he’s had no recurrences. 

“President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous 78-year-old male, who is fit to execute the duties of the presidency,” O’Connor said.  The summary released on Friday said Biden is 5 feet 11 2/3 inches and his weight came in at 184 pounds, six pounds heavier than a physical two years ago revealed. O’Connor said Biden does not drink alcohol or use tobacco products and exercises at least five days a week.