Well, at least as far as his medical history goes, President Trump’s day yesterday just got more and more interesting.
First, as The News Blender reported yesterday, Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump’s longtime personal physician, recounted to NBC news that
[T]hree men, one unidentified simply being called “a large man,” along with President Trump’s personal bodyguard and one time director of Oval Office operations at the White House, Keith Schiller, who left that post in September of 2017, raided his New York office and removed all of President Trump’s medical records, including those under President Trump’s pseudonyms used.
And then, Bornstein informed CNN that the 2015 letter of health for Trump was completely dictated by the President:
“He dictated that whole letter. I didn’t write that letter,” Bornstein told CNN on Tuesday. “I just made it up as I went along.”
The letter, which resurfaced at a point when the candidates’ medical histories was a central focus of the presidential campaign, famously made a number of hyperbolic claims about the future President’s health: for example, that Trump had recently undergone a complete medical examination that “showed only positive results.” CNN recalls that
“His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary,” he crowed in the letter, which was released by Trump’s campaign in December 2015. “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
Continuing, CNN points out that
The missive didn’t offer much medical evidence for those claims beyond citing a blood pressure of 110/65, described by Bornstein as “astonishingly excellent.” It claimed Trump had lost 15 pounds over the preceding year. And it described his cardiovascular health as “excellent.”
Bornstein, taking over for his father Jacob, is a gastroenterologist who served as Trump’s personal physician from 1980 until Trump took office in 2016. He told NBC News in an August 2016 interview that he wrote the letter “in just five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his Manhattan office.”
Per NBC’s report at the time:
Dr. Harold Bornstein, who has been the GOP nominee’s doctor for 35 years, told NBC News on Friday that he stands by his glowing assessment of the 70-year-old’s physical state.
“His health is excellent, especially his mental health,” he said in an exclusive interview at his Park Avenue office.
The four-paragraph letter — the only medical information released by Trump — was written and released in December but has drawn fresh scrutiny in recent days as Trump’s allies have questioned Hillary Clinton’s health, despite a more detailed two-page letter from her doctor that said she has no serious issues.
But as CNN notes in their breaking story, Bornstein in a 2016 letter would eventually offer “a more businesslike assessment, listing things such as Trump’s height, weight and prescription medications,” later telling CNN’s Drew Griffin that he’d “dashed off” the first letter while he was seeing patients.
“I was just rushed for time,” he said in September 2016. “I had people to see.”
He insisted then that the words were his own.
“Did I really write that letter? Yeah,” he said.
But now, according to CNN, Bornstein is telling a different story:
“That’s black humor, that letter. That’s my sense of humor,” he said. “It’s like the movie ‘Fargo’: It takes the truth and moves it in a different direction.”
He said Trump read out the language as Bornstein and his wife were driving across Central Park.
“(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn’t put in there,” he said. “They came to pick up their letter at 4 o’clock or something.”
To view Dr. Bornstein’s 2015 and 2016 letters, click here.
Why It Matters
As mentioned above, while the candidates’ health became a major topic leading up to the 2016 election, a disproportionate amount of the concern concentrated on Clinton’s perceived health issues; Trump, on the other hand, was largely was assumed to be healthy. Fortune.com reported that, based on a Morning Consult poll in September 2016:
- More than 40% of registered voters now believe that Clinton is in either “below average” or “very poor” health, according to the survey of 1,501 people taken between September 12 and 13. That’s a sharp departure from another Morning Consult poll taken just at the end of August, when only 26% of respondents thought her health was subpar.
- The share of voters who think Clinton’s health is “average” remained relatively flat at 28% in the new survey. By contrast, the percentage of the electorate who think Trump is in either “above average” or “excellent” health actually ticked upwards from late August, from 33% to 36% (just 22% believe the same of Clinton. [Emphasis added]
There can be little doubt that the perception of Trump’s relative good health gave him an edge over his opponent as the campaign neared its final stretch. Of course, this was not all as a result of Bornstein’s forged letter – after all, Clinton had just appeared to have collapsed on film, an incident which precipitated much of the debate on the issue. That said, the fabricated report of good health from Trump’s doctor likely shielded him from much of the same scrutiny.
It begs the question that if Trump was willing to pose as his own doctor in order to win, what else might he have been willing to do?
This also underscores what is becoming clear to be one of Trump’s main modus operandi: acting in a self-serving manner under someone else’s name.
It was widely reported even back during the primaries in 2016 that Trump had been known to act as his own spokesman and promote his business enterprises under assumed names (including “John Barron” and “John Miller”). More recently, it came to light that Trump’s use of this ploy to lie about his wealth is how he wound up on the Forbes 400 for the first time. And, still more significantly, following a 2016 meeting with Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with alleged Kremlin ties, Trump dictated a statement on behalf of his son Donald Trump, Jr., contrary even to comments made at the time by Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s own attorneys.
So if this report is true, we can only hope that this is the last bit of compromising information that the President has chosen to withhold from the American people. But the farther into his term we go, the less likely that seems to be the case.