Trump keeps bragging about acing simple test used to detect mental impairment

Trump has touted his perfect score at least three times this month.

July 23, 2020, 2:44 PM

For at least the third time this month, President Donald Trump has bragged about the results of a cognitive test he took as part of a physical exam in 2018 but now says he took "less than a year ago."

“Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV,” Trump said in recalling one of the memory-related questions on the test in an interview with Dr. Marc Siegel, a physician and Fox News contributor, that aired Wednesday.

“And then 10 minutes, 15, 20 minutes later, they say, remember the first question, not the first, but the 10th question? Give us that again. Can you do that again? And you go, ‘Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV,” he said,

“It's not that easy. There were other questions tougher than what I just did. But it's not that easy,” Trump, who's 74, said, clearly pleased with his performance.

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment -- what the president was referencing -- is a screening test meant to detect cognitive impairment such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

It is not designed to measure or rate a patient’s overall intelligence.

But the president, who has referred to himself as "a very stable genius," has taken to touting his results as an impressive display of mental strength.

“I got a perfect mark. And the doctors were -- they said: Very few people can do that. Very few people get that. You understand,” Trump told Siegel.

“I aced the test,” the president said in another interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity earlier this month.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a meeting of his coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a meeting of his coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When the president again raised his test performance in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace last week, Wallace said he, too, had taken the test after he heard the president took it and observed that it’s “not the hardest test.”

“They have a picture and it says “what’s that?” and it’s an elephant,” Wallace said.

“You see, that's all misrepresentation,” Trump countered. “It's all misrepresentation. Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions. I'll bet you couldn't, they get very hard, the last five questions.

“Well, one of them was count back from 100 by seven,” Wallace said and began to count backward: “Ninety-three.”

But as the president now touts his own “perfect mark” as proof of his mental fortitude, he has also taken to raising doubts about the acuity of his Democratic presidential challenger, challenging former Vice President Joe Biden, who's 77, to take the same test.

“[Biden] should take the same exact test, a very standard test. I took it at Walter Reed Medical Center in front of doctors. And they were very surprised. They said, that’s an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did. But he should take that same test,” Trump said.

The last time the president was known to have taken the test was during a physical exam two years ago, though he recently suggested he took the test more recently, telling Fox he asked to take the test “probably a year ago, a little less than a year ago.”

The president said he took the test at his own request as a means to put to rest questions of his own mental fitness that had been percolating at the time, prompted in part by anecdotes from the book “Fire and Fury.”

“I said to the doctor -- it was Dr. Ronny Jackson -- I said: ‘Is there some kind of a test, an acuity test?’ And he said: ‘There actually is. And he named it, whatever it might be. And it was 30 or 35 questions.”

Dr. Jackson, who is now a candidate for Congress running in Texas with the president’s endorsement, has not been a White House doctor since 2018.

There was no record of a cognitive test in the results of the president’s 2019 exam or in a memorandum released in January of this year, when the president’s physician Dr. Sean Conley wrote that "there were no findings of significance or changes to report."

The president’s last trip to Walter Reed for a physical examination came in November, when the president made an unannounced trip to the hospital, traveling by motorcade rather than helicopter as is standard. The White House said at the time that the president was taking "portions" of his annual physical exam.

Asked if the president took the test during that visit or at any time since 2018, the White House did not comment.

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