Harold Bornstein, the eccentric gastroenterologist who once served as President Donald Trump’s personal doctor, has again graced another political news cycle with his presence.
He jumped back into the spotlight this week with a new claim that Trump’s lackeys barged into his office and seized the President’s health records in early 2017, apparently without prior approval from Bornstein. His entrée into the news cycle led him to spill additional details about his interactions with Trump, including that the President dictated the infamous letter Bornstein wrote claiming that Trump would “be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
Bornstein’s return to the spotlight this week also serves as a reminder on why he even became a character in the 2016 election in the first place: Trump is obsessed with his own health.
Trump has long boasted about his physical health, often citing his “good genes” as the source of his physical fitness, success in the business world and his intelligence.
On the campaign trail, Trump constantly touted his ability to stand during long rallies and questioned rival Hillary Clinton’s “stamina,” seizing on her bout of pneumonia during the campaign. Trump promised that his health records would reveal “perfection” in late 2015. Indeed, two weeks later, Bornstein released his letter about Trump’s “excellent health,” which Trump apparently drafted himself.
As Trump continued to obsess over Clinton’s health, his own health became the subject of public scrutiny. As the oldest person ever elected President with a tendency to rant and go on incoherent tangents, Trump faced skepticism about his physical and mental health. He challenged Clinton to release her health records in August 2016, a move that ultimately led to pressure for him to release his own record.
In a publicity stunt built up as an effort to be transparent about his health, Trump sat for an interview with television personality Dr. Oz to talk about his health. Yet he only released a one-page summary of his medical history drafted by the infamous Bornstein and spent the interview boasting about his “stamina” and emphasizing his excellent genetics.
Forced to ditch Bornstein, his doctor for 30 years, upon entering the White House, Trump found a new doctor to stroke his ego. After Trump’s much-ballyhooed first physical in office in January, Dr. Ronny Jackson announced that the President was in “excellent health” and had “incredibly good genes.” Trump was so impressed with Jackson’s performance that he nominated him to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, only for allegations of improper behavior to derail Jackson’s path to confirmation.
Trump has also defended his mental health, insisting earlier this year that he is a “very stable genius” in response to coverage of a book about his campaign and administration, “Fire and Fury.” The scrutiny over Trump’s mental health led him to take a cognitive test aimed at identifying memory loss or dementia as part of his physical in January. The President received a perfect score on the test, Jackson said, clearing him of a significant memory issue.
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