Biden’s physician was also a family business associate


President Joe Biden is leaning on the credibility of White House physician Kevin O’Connor’s optimistic assessment of his health, but that physician is a family intimate and one-time business associate of the president’s brother.

When Biden’s brother Jim was exploring a business venture aimed at securing Veterans Affairs contracts in 2017, O’Connor introduced him to a military-focused medical team and accompanied him to a meeting with a hospital president.

“You and your team clearly share our vision,” O’Connor wrote to the hospital president following the business meeting.

The family ties transcend business. In a 2018 deposition, the president’s sister-in-law, Sara Biden, described O’Connor as a “friend” who frequently doled out medical advice to her family.

When Joe Biden had left the vice presidency the previous year, O’Connor — his government-assigned military doctor — emailed more than a dozen members of the Biden clan, saying, “You’ve all been a really important part of my life.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that O’Connor had met with a specialist in Parkinson’s Disease who visited the White House eight times in eight months, fanning a new round of speculation about Biden’s wellbeing.

In response to a question about the visits, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates cited a White House statement that “A wide variety of specialists from the Walter Reed system visit the White House complex to treat thousands of military personnel who work on the grounds.”

Bates also cited a February memo from O’Connor to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that said a neurologic exam revealed no findings consistent with Parkinson’s or a host of other neurological disorders.

But experts in presidential health, and its long history of medical cover ups, said the close personal bonds between the Bidens and O’Connor intensify the inherent conflicts in relying on the White House physician to accurately convey the state of his employer’s health to the public.

“That compounds the problem,” said Matthew Algeo, historian and author of “The President is a Sick Man” about Grover Cleveland’s coverup of an 1893 cancer procedure. “You’re working for the guy you’re examining, and he’s your buddy. It’s just a lose-lose situation.”

Bert Park, author of “The Impact of Illness on World Leaders” and an advocate for independent oversight of presidents’ health, called the Biden family bonds “one of the many concerns” about relying on O’Connor to publicly disclose serious medical issues.

“We cannot depend on the presidential physician to come clean,” Park, himself a doctor, said. “That’s a fool’s game.”

O’Connor, then an army colonel on the White House medical staff, first served as Joe Biden’s government-provided physician when he was vice president.

During that period, O’Connor regularly dispensed medical advice to members of the Biden clan, according to a deposition given by Jim Biden’s wife Sara Biden in a New York state medical malpractice case filed by the president’s niece, Caroline Biden, against a specialist she sought treatment from on the strength of a referral from O’Connor.

“Colonel O’Connor was actually a friend and he — we would frequently ask for his recommendations if any of us had a medical issue,” Sara Biden said in the deposition for the case, by way of explaining O’Connor’s 2013 referral of the specialist to her stepdaughter.

The doctor’s ties to the family famously intensified as he assisted Beau Biden’s battle with terminal brain cancer from 2013 to 2015.

In October 2016, as the end of the Obama administration approached, O’Connor emailed Hunter Biden, Jim Biden and a dozen other family members to invite them to his retirement ceremony ahead of a planned July 2017 departure from the military, according to one of Hunter Biden’s leaked emails.

“You’ve all been a really important part of my life for the past eight years,” O’Connor wrote, “and I hope that will continue.”

Indeed, O’Connor’s relationship with Biden family members did continue after Joe Biden left the vice presidency.

In mid-2017, Jim Biden began pursuing health care ventures with a troubled hospital chain, Americore.

In order to fill Americore’s hospitals and ease the backlog of patients seeking care from the Veterans Affairs Department, Jim Biden later testified to impeachment inquiry investigators, he hoped to use Americore facilities to house veterans seeking treatment for alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder under one roof.

As he explored the possibility of winning support from the VA, Jim Biden testified that O’Connor introduced him to the leader of a group that screened for PTSD on military bases.

In June of 2017, Jim Biden and O’Connor also met with Beverly Annarumo, president of a hospital in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, that Americore would soon acquire, according to emails included in a cache of internal Americore documents obtained exclusively by POLITICO.

“It was a pleasure to meet with the two of you on Wednesday,” wrote Annarumo to O’Connor and Jim Biden. “I am very excited about the possibility of bringing help to the Veterans in our area.”

Annarumo wrote that she had attached information about Ellwood City Hospital’s facilities, adding, “Please let me know if there is anything else that I can provide that would help ensure that your vision for our Veterans becomes a reality.”

“I truly enjoyed our time together the other day,” O’Connor responded. “You and your team clearly share our vision, and I look forward to seeing you again in coming months.

The domain for O’Connor’s email address, “CelticMD.com,” contains a reference to Joe Biden’s Secret Service codename, Celtic.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request to make O’Connor available for an interview. Neither O’Connor nor a representative for Jim Biden responded to requests for comment that included questions about the full extent of their business collaboration, and it is unclear what came of it.

On Sunday, House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) sent O’Connor a letter seeking an interview that cited his involvement with Jim Biden.

After Joe Biden assumed the presidency in 2021, O’Connor took on the role of White House physician, reentering an executive branch that his patient now wields ultimate power over.

Jacob Appel, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York who has studied the political dilemmas posed by presidents’ health, said that members of the public are fooling themselves if they believe that the president’s doctor is there to keep them fully informed.

In addition to the conflicts posed by personal bonds and their status as executive branch employees, Appel said that HIPAA forbids physicians from disclosing medical information that a patient wants to keep secret, even when those patients are presidents.

“Presidents’ doctors have deceived the public going back to the early 19th century,” Appel said. “There are plenty of ways of saying something that are factually accurate that don’t convey the full sense of what’s going on.”



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