Maybe we should have seen Donald Trump’s true Achilles heel coming all along.
We’ve seen the bizarre long-haired doctor, Harold Bornstein, who claimed the overweight septuagenarian was in “astonishingly excellent” health, before undermining his prognosis by saying the then-candidate dictated the letter to him from a limo waiting outside his office. (And later, that Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and Trump Org lawyer Alan Garten “raided” his office and “took all the president's medical records” shortly after their boss took the Oath of Office.)
And we saw the 2018 physical conducted by White House doctor Ronny Jackson, who told reporters the commander in chief weighed in at a dubious 239 pounds—before he became the surprise pick to be Trump’s next Veterans Affairs chief, only to go down in flames amid claims of drunken behavior and liberal rules for handing out painkillers to staffers.
Today, we got the newest entry in the fishy Trump medical file. In a stunning report from The New York Times, the daughters of a Queens podiatrist claim the president’s Vietnam draft-era diagnosis of bone spurs in his feet may have been granted as a “favor” to his father, Fred Trump, in exchange for preferential treatment as a tenant in his buildings—and few rent increases.
At the time, Donald Trump was a healthy young man in his twenties while the U.S. military was drafting some 300,000 a year to fight in Southeast Asia. The Times reports he previously told a biographer that no one pulled strings for him to avoid service, according to interview transcripts.
How does this report about that disqualifying medical document fit into the history of the man who told Howard Stern that dodging STDs while he was single was “my personal Vietnam”?
Here’s a quick rundown of the claims the doctor’s children told the Times:
The podiatrist who issued the document did so “as a favor” to Fred Trump
Trump received his diagnosis from New York City podiatrist Larry Braunstein in the fall of 1968, effectively allowing him to evade military service in Vietnam after he’d already exhausted four education deferments. Braunstein, whose office space was rented from Trump’s real-estate developer father Fred Trump, died in 2007. His two daughters told the Times that the document proclaiming Trump’s diagnosis was “a favor” to the family.
In exchange, Braunstein told his family he received preferential treatment—and few rent increases
Daughter Elysa Braunstein said that, in exchange for the diagnosis, her father said he received attentive service from the landlord and preferential treatment.
“If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately,” she said.
Another podiatrist who worked with Braunstein said his colleague had even said the Trumps pushed back rent increases.
“He spoke very highly of the Trumps, and they were very open to negotiating with him and letting him stay in the space at a rent he was comfortable with,” Alec Hochstein told the Times.
A second podiatrist may have been in on it, too
The Braunstein family said Manny Weinstein, who died in 1995 and testified to Trump’s condition, was also a long-term tenant of Fred Trump. City directories reportedly show that he lived in two apartments owned by the developer, and that he moved into the first one in 1968—the same year Donald Trump received his military exemption.
Braunstein may have regretted what he did
The bombshell story was reported out following an anonymous tip, but the story of Braunstein’s involvement in the president’s diagnosis has been “family lore” for years.
“It was something we would always discuss,” said Elysa Braunstein, who added that her father was at first proud he had helped Trump but that the lifelong Democrat and World War II veteran came to feel differently after watching Trump’s reputation explode onto gossip pages and then reality television.