"It's all misrepresentation," the president replied, "because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions"

By Adam Carlson
July 20, 2020 10:21 AM
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President Donald Trump responded incredulously in a Fox News interview on Sunday when Chris Wallace told him a cognitive test he had boasted of acing was "not the hardest" and included questions about identifying different animals and counting backward from 100.

"I took the test, too, when I heard that you passed it," Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, told Trump in their White House interview.

"It's not the hardest test," Wallace, 72, continued. "They have a picture and it says 'what's that' and it's an elephant." Another question, he said, was "count back from 100 by seven."

"No, no, no," the president, 74, replied.

"It's all misrepresentation," he said. "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."

"Okay, what's the question?" Wallace told him, to which Trump said: "I'll get you the test, I'd like to give it. I'll guarantee you that Joe Biden could not answer those questions."

The president, who has touted what he calls his "genius" in response to criticism of his temperament, put cognitive testing in the spotlight after a Sean Hannity interview earlier this month.

Trump said then that he'd taken a cognitive test "very recently when the radical left was saying, ‘Is he all there? Is he all there?’ " — and "I aced it."

President Donald Trump
Drew Angerer/Getty
President Donald Trump
Mark Wilson/Getty

It was "a very standard test," the president told Hannity. "I took it at Walter Reed Medical Center in front of doctors and they were very surprised."

By contrast, Trump and his campaign have repeatedly questioned former Vice President Joe Biden's competency.

“I can hardly wait. I can hardly wait to deal with what he refers to himself as a 'stable genius,' " Biden, 77, told a Pennsylvania station the same night Trump was on Hannity. "I can hardly wait to debate him.”

Speaking with Wallace on Sunday, Trump argued that "to be president you have to be sharp and tough and so many others things .... Joe doesn’t know he’s alive."

Wallace told him that a recent Fox News poll showed a sample of voters gave Biden the edge on mental strength, over Trump, to which the president said: "I'll tell you what, let's take a test. Let's take a test right now. Let's go down, Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took."

Though Trump told Hannity he took his cognitive test "very recently," the White House did not release more information about it.

The president did take a Montreal Cognitive Assessment in 2018 and, doctors said at the time, scored a 30 out of 30.

That assessment is meant to be administered quickly to detect "mild cognitive dysfunction" and assesses "attention and concentration, executive functions, memory, language" and other skills.

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As Wallace noted, the exam is not as intimidating as Trump described.

For example, different versions require naming animals; repeating a handful of words and sentences; finding similarities between two objects such as a banana and an orange; following a set of commands such as taping your hand on cue to a certain letter; and drawing shapes. (Wallace said the one he took was from "the web.")

In 2018 the White House physician, Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, said that Trump had asked to take the cognitive test.

Jackson said then: “I’ve found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought processes.”