White House and source deny Trump's ex-doctor was subject of 'raid'
Posted May 1, 2018 1:06 p.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2018 5:06 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Dr. Harold Bornstein, who served as President Donald Trump's physician for more than three decades, told CNN on Tuesday that he was "robbed" when a White House aide arrived at his practice and retrieved the President's medical records more than a year ago. The White House and a source familiar with the incident deny that account.
"I've been waiting, humiliated, for an entire year," he told CNN's Alex Marquardt and Lawrence Crook outside his Park Avenue office. "How would you feel if you cared for someone for 35 years, they came and robbed your office?"
The White House and a separate source familiar with the handover of Trump's medical records disputed Bornstein's description of the incident as a "raid."
"As is standard operating procedure, the White House Medical Unit took possession of the President's medical records," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters during an afternoon briefing.
The competing version of events came after Bornstein told NBC News that Keith Schiller, Trump's former longtime personal bodyguard and confidant, Trump Organization chief legal officer Alan Garten and a third "large man" had come to collect the President's medical records.
He repeated his claims to CNN.
"They barged through the back door, they terrified the secretary, they pushed aside the patient that was in there," Bornstein said. He didn't clarify who "they" were, but said the incident didn't adhere to privacy laws.
"Medical files are controlled by HIPAA," he said, referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. "You have to sign over releases for them. All my files are locked three times."
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.
Early last year, this person said, Trump saw or heard his former doctor talking about his medical history and asked that his medical records be retrieved from Bornstein's office.
Schiller, then working as Trump's director of Oval Office operations, was assigned to complete the task. He presented Bornstein with a letter from the White House physician's office requesting the release. The records were requested in person "because the President did not want his personal records being faxed or Fed Ex'd," according to the person familiar with the events.
The encounter lasted 20 minutes or less, the person said. Schiller spoke with Bornstein concerning the records and waited while he attempted to make photocopies of Trump's file.
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.
Schiller left with the President's file, which was handed to him by Bornstein.
Presidents are cared for by the White House Medical Unit and the White House physician. Bornstein said on Tuesday that he wasn't disappointed to not have assumed that role.
"I was hoping I wouldn't be asked. Do I look like the man who wants to be the White House doctor?" he asked.
In his NBC interview, the New York doctor claimed the records incident occurred on February 3, 2017, two days after he had told The New York Times that Trump takes Propecia, a prostate drug often prescribed for hair loss.
"I couldn't believe anybody was making a big deal out of a drug to grow his hair that seemed to be so important. And it certainly was not a breach of medical trust to tell somebody they take Propecia to grow their hair. What's the matter with that?" he told NBC News.
During Trump's presidential campaign, in December 2015, Bornstein came under scrutiny for writing an unusual letter, declaring "unequivocally" that Trump would be the "healthiest president ever elected to the presidency."
Bornstein told NBC News in 2016 that he had written the letter in only five minutes and as fast as possible.