Trump blames 'slippery' ramp for slow descent at West Point where he seemed to have trouble drinking glass of water

President claims he 'ran' for 10 feet but video shows he did not

Phil Thomas
New York
Sunday 14 June 2020 13:45
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Trump appears to have trouble walking down ramp at West Point ceremony

Donald Trump has blamed a "long, steep, very slippery" ramp for his difficulty in walking during a ceremony for newly qualified cadets at West Point military academy at which he also appeared to have trouble drinking a glass of water.

The president was seen walking awkwardly down the slight slope accompanied by Superintendent of the United States Military Academy Lt Gen Darryl Williams during the ceremony on Saturday.

Later that day, as video of the incident trended on social media, he tweeted: "The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery. The last thing I was going to do is "fall" for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!"

While video shows the president adopt a jaunty gait for his last three steps it does not show him running for 10 feet.

Mr Trump has previously shown nervousness at navigating slopes and stairs, prompting speculation that he may suffer from a condition called bathmophobia – a fear of steps. In 2017 he famously grabbed then-British prime minister Theresa May's hand while they walked down a sloping passage outside the White House together. The following year he took her hand again during an event at Chequers, the prime minister's official country residence.

Trump appears to have trouble drinking glass of water

In 2017, CNN national correspondent Jeanne Moos said she often noticed Mr Trump's careful reaction to stairs, saying he "always keeps his eyes on his feet while clutching the railing". At the time the White House referred to the claim as "absurd".

As is often the case with actual or implied criticism of his actions, Mr Trump has lambasted his own political opponents with similar accusations. In 2014 he tweeted: "The way President Obama runs down the stairs of Air Force 1, hopping & bobbing all the way, is so inelegant and unpresidential. Do not fall."

At Saturday's event at West Point, Mr Trump also appeared to have trouble drinking a glass of water. During his speech he raised the glass with his right hand but only to the level of his chin. He then used his left hand to push the glass upwards towards his lips.

It is not the first time his drinking technique has raised questions. In 2017 at a press conference at the White House he used both hands to raise a small bottle of water to his lips before holding it there and quickly moving his head backwards to sip it.

Again, Mr Trump has previously mocked others for the way they drink water. During the Republican presidential primary race in 2016 his rival Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, took repeated sips from a bottle of water. Later Mr Trump scornfully impersonated him at an event in Fort Worth, Texas, opening a bottle of water and splashing it around before throwing it over his shoulder.

Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist who has previously said the president's behaviour demands an urgent mental evaluation, reacted to Saturday's incident by tweeting: "This is a persistent neurological sign that, combined with others, would be concerning enough to require a brain scan."

During his speech he struggled to pronounce names including Ulysses S Grant and Douglas MacArthur.

The White House says that Mr Trump's most recent medical evaluation shows him to be in perfect health. The president turns 74 on Sunday.

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