President Donald Trump took to Twitter late Saturday night to push back against the fiery speculation over a video that showed his slow, careful descent from a stage following his commencement speech at West Point earlier that day. The video had gone viral on social media amid broad speculation that the apparent difficulty in walking down from the stage could be a sign of health issues and #TrumpIsNotWell and #TrumpIsUnwell began trending on Twitter. So Trump decided to push back against the speculation head-on, assuring that the issue will continue to be discussed.
According to Trump’s telling, all he was trying to do was avoid falling because that would have been “fun” for the “fake news.” “The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery,” Trump wrote. “The last thing I was going to do is ‘fall’ for the Fake News to have fun with.” Then, in the most perplexing part of the tweet, Trump noted that, “Final ten feet I ran down to level ground.” And then he added: “Momentum!” Trump’s talk of a “slippery” ramp may lead some to assume the weather was less than stellar. But earlier in the day, MSNBC analyst Clint Watts posted a video on Twitter with the caption: “Amazing weather for West Point graduation today.”
A potential presidential fall has apparently been on the president’s mind for quite some time, even before he moved into the White House. In April 2014, Trump wrote a tweet in which he criticized the way President Barack Obama “runs down the stairs of Air Force 1,” calling it “inelegant” and not fit for a president. “Do not fall!” he wrote.
Trump, who turned 74 Sunday, did not address another video that also contributed to the trending hashtag about his health that showed him using two hands to drink a glass of water. This wasn’t the first time that Trump’s use of two hands to drink water has become a topic of speculation. In November 2017, a video of Trump using two hands to drink from a water bottle in the middle of a speech also went viral.
It also was not the first time that Trump walking down stairs has become a topic of conversation. When Trump was photographed in January 2017 holding then–British Prime Minister Theresa May’s hand as they walked at the White House, it sparked lots of speculation in British media outlets that the president has a fear of stairs, which is sometimes referred to as bathmophobia. It wasn’t an isolated event either. May later said that she just helps him out. “What you notice is that whenever he takes me down a slope or stairs—he did it up the steps at Blenheim Palace—he takes my hand to help in going up the steps,” she said in a 2018 interview.
For more of Slate’s news coverage, subscribe to What Next on Apple Podcasts or listen below.