That’s hard to believe. “Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” doesn’t sound like something the modest, measured POTUS we all know and love would say.
I remember people taking umbrage at the idea in 2015 that Bornstein was anything less than perfectly honest in his assessment of Trump’s health. How dare you question the ethics of a practicing physician, even one “who both looks and writes like a professional wrestler”? Now, two and a half years later, that umbrage will melt into exasperation that anyone cares. “Obviously Trump dictated the letter. So what?”
Needless to say (although it was in fact said a thousand times on political Twitter last night), had President Hillary been accused by her doctor of sock-puppeting a glowing health evaluation and then sending goons to the office to seize her medical records, the House would already be announcing hearings this morning. Articles of impeachment in draft form would be in the works. Hannity would need smelling salts.
“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.”…
“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.”
I’m curious to know what was so hyperbolic and absurd that Bornstein thought it was too far-fetched for a letter calling Trump the healthiest would-be president in history.
An obvious question: Do we believe this guy? Why should we, especially when he’s now admitted complicity in duping the public once before? A source “familiar with the incident” told CNN yesterday, in fact, that Bornstein wildly exaggerated the “raid” on his office by Keith Schiller and two other men. Bornstein claims they “barged through the back door, they terrified the secretary, they pushed aside the patient that was in there.” However:
The person familiar with the episode described altogether different circumstances, saying the handover had been completed peacefully, complicated only by Bornstein’s fumbling with his photocopy machine to make copies of the records…
After Bornstein failed in several attempts to photocopy the file, Schiller asked for the original copies, which were handed to him.
“Bornstein was making a big deal about the request. He seemed flustered and couldn’t operate his copy machine,” the person said.
All original copies of the president’s medical records were seized because no one in the office that day, which included a doctor and a lawyer, could operate a photocopier? Seems legit. Say, has Bornstein asked for the return of those originals now that the White House has had 14 months to make its own photocopies?
Another question: Is the AMA paying any attention to this? Letting a patient dictate his own evaluation sure seems like an ethical breach, just like Bornstein telling newspapers last year that Trump uses Propecia. James Hamblin, an MD turned editor at the Atlantic, says starkly, “For a patient to dictate his own assessment is not just rare, but unheard of. If a doctor offers to let you dictate your own assessment, seek a new doctor. It is unethical, unprofessional, and dangerous.”
Bornstein gives a good soundbite, though. He and his former patient have that in common, at least.
.@KaciSokoloff just spoke w Dr. Harold Bornstein, who refused an interview but said that NBC's piece was "a pretty good story." Bornstein also said that he spoke to the NBC reporter “in the bathroom” of his office. He signed off with: "Sweetheart, this is watergate, goodbye!"
— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) May 1, 2018
When the Times called him up yesterday for an interview, he told them that previous interviews he’d done with the paper (which included the Propecia revelation) had cause him “torture for more than a year.” Then he asked them to atone by making a large donation in his name to his alma mater, Tufts University. Again, seems very, verrry legit.
One last question. Bornstein famously isn’t the only “controversial” doctor to give Trump a highly public, unusually glowing health review. So did Ronny Jackson, a man over whom POTUS has plenty of leverage (and who, as his doctor, has leverage over POTUS as well). If, hypothetically, Trump demanded to “dictate” Jackson’s health assessment as well, would Jackson have refused on grounds that it was unethical or would he have played ball? One of the lesser allegations against him in Jon Tester’s list of dirt was that he “was a suck up to those above him and abusive to those below him,” a “kiss up, kick down boss.” It could be that’s just another smear, but if there’s something to it then Jackson may have been reluctant to deny his boss’s request, especially if he feared that the White House might take revenge by leaking some of the more lurid accusations against him.
Only one thing is certain: If Democrats win back the House, the Harold Bornstein/Ronny Jackson hearings next year are going to be lit.