April 28th, 2010
08:57 PM ET
4 years ago

Townsend: Bush illness investigated, poisoning unlikely

President Bush was likely not poisoned during a 2007 trip to Germany, Frances Townsend said Wednesday.
President Bush was likely not poisoned during a 2007 trip to Germany, Frances Townsend said Wednesday.

(CNN) - A top aide to former President George W. Bush confirmed Wednesday that he became ill while attending a 2007 meeting with world leaders, but noted that the sickness was likely the result of a virus, and not intentionally poisoned food.

Former first lady Laura Bush suggests in a new memoir that she, her husband, and several aides may have been poisoned during a 2007 visit to Germany for the G8 summit.

Frances Townsend, Bush's Homeland Security adviser and CNN contributor, said there was "no indication" that the President had been poisoned, but doctors and the United States Secret Service did consider the possibility, during an interview broadcast Wednesday on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

"The truth was ultimately we didn't really believe there was a basis to think they were poisoned, but you can understand – you would have thought us not competent if we hadn't considered the possibility and looked at it," Townsend said.

According to the former first lady, doctors and the Secret Service investigated the possibility a poisoning had occurred but were unable to make a definitive conclusion, an account backed up by Townsend.

"As the first lady indicates, the Secret Service, as you can imagine, as more and more of the U.S. delegation are getting sick, they were concerned," Townsend said. "The doctors that tend to the president were on site and looking into it with them. They believed it was just a virus, a local virus."

News reports during that time show the White House did disclose Bush missed a series of morning sessions at the summit because he had contracted an apparent virus, but White House officials did not provide further detail.

"Nearly a dozen members of our delegation were stricken, even George, who started to feel sick during an early morning staff briefing," Mrs. Bush writes in the memoir. "[O]ne of our military aides had difficulty walking and a White House staffer lost all hearing in one ear. Exceedingly alarmed, the Secret Service went on full alert, combing the resort for potential poisons."

"George felt so ill that he met with [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy and did not even stand up to greet him," she continues, adding later, "We never learned if any other delegations became ill, or if ours, mysteriously, was the only one."

–Alex Mooney contributed to this report


Filed under: George W. Bush • Laura Bush • Popular Posts
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. jenn,philadelphia

    Where does she "suggest poisoning"? It seems she related a story that included that the Secret Service investigated it as a possibility, but didn't find any evidence of poison. If that many people in our delegation got that sick, it would have been irresponsible of the Secret Service to not have even checked poisoning as a possibility. Does CNN really need to try and put a negative spin on everything Bush related?

    April 28, 2010 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  2. simplefact

    Could it be god's intervention, albeit a few years too late! Just being facetious! I've believe it's just a bad virus case. :)

    You & Laura are good, honest folks. It's Cheney that is the evil one. We really screwed ourselves by invading Iraq; and should have focused on purging Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

    April 28, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  3. slacker

    Another example of how sad paranoid these people are!!! And how is it that they were in the WH for 8 YEARS??????

    April 28, 2010 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. Chuck - Tulsa

    The more likely scenario is that the idiot bug found a host.

    April 28, 2010 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. Gil

    Both of the bush's have been delusional their whole life! Too bad they had to have it rub off on America during their 8 years in office!

    April 28, 2010 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  6. Tom Ryan

    Well, whatever the cause, whatever the reason, too bad it wasn't more effective...

    April 28, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  7. Tino

    more lies from the Bushes... trying for some sympathy. Not working. Worst Administration EVER!

    April 28, 2010 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    We recently had a stomach/intestinal virus go through our family, brought home by our oldest (our school secretary said it was going around the school). These kinds of viruses are very contagious and, fortunately, usually short-lived and easily treated through standard medical protocol (not eating until the stomach is settled, staying hydrated, etc.).

    My guess is the Bushes and their staff had the misfortune of picking up one of these bugs; nothing more, nothing less.

    April 28, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  9. Kevin

    Poison in Germany? hmmmmmm.......I'm just curious if this incident occurred before or after former President Bush attempted his neck rub on Angela Merkel. For me, it still remains the creepiest moment in modern international relations.

    April 28, 2010 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  10. Pete

    Mission Accomplished – the book will be a best seller, poisoning or no poisoning.

    April 28, 2010 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  11. Mr. Moderate

    If someone had worked out as complex a plot as would be necessary as to poison the food served to the US delegation, they would not have fallen ill, they would no longer be with us.

    April 28, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  12. Mike

    I cannot understand why anyone would want to poison them?? LOL

    Of course, 1.3 million dead Iraqis could be a hint....

    April 28, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  13. George of the jungle

    He should have used Chaney as his food taster . Like they did in the middle ages.

    April 28, 2010 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  14. dahliah

    dont think it can be solve.

    April 28, 2010 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  15. Joe, San Diego

    Wicked people live in constant fear...

    April 28, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. Greg

    Trying to sell a book. Please.

    April 28, 2010 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  17. Dis-gusted

    Apparently Laura Bush couldn't come up with anything of interest to sell her book except the comment about GW being poisened. People are a bit wiser than she gives them credit for. Had that happened, the Secret Service would have been all over it, and it would have been news at the time. I wonder if she felt GHW "may have been " poisened when he upchucked at a dinner in Japan?

    April 28, 2010 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. Elizabeth in Seattle

    Sounds suspicious to me.

    April 28, 2010 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  19. Ethan

    We're all really sorry you were sick, but could you quit it with the lying already? I mean come on.

    April 28, 2010 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  20. nelg

    probably just culture shock.

    April 28, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. Dohn Addleman

    Townsend says that "you would have thought us not competent ...". That's hilarious! The thought that the Bush administration was "not competent" never crosssed my mind even when Bush called for free elections in Gaza and then the terrorists won the elections.

    April 28, 2010 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  22. Roy R. Rowlands

    America should have been so lucky. The world would not be in the terrible condition it is today if this was the case. I don't wish anyone in this world to die but if some one could have permanently disabled this totally incompetent leader it would have been great. He and his crew should be held accountable for thier crimes against America, its people and the rest of the world, this is not to mention all of the innocent people who are dead and disabled. This man and his crew has totally ruined America and the American way of life and should be held accountable. This is the way I and many people I know feel. Put him in prison where he belongs.

    April 28, 2010 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  23. Charles Daeda

    Maybe the virus came from the Presidential jet toilet backing up somewhat by releasing smells inside the jet. A virus typically takes a week or two to develop symptoms, so whatever caused the viral illness the exposure probably occurred a week or two before symptoms were felt.

    April 28, 2010 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  24. richard

    If someone did poison W, they didnt do a very good job

    Most people would say,,,, TOO BAD

    April 29, 2010 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  25. Annie

    I'd wanna know if the other dignitaries got sick too. Find out CNN!!

    April 29, 2010 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
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