Rarely do I ever complain about my work. Frankly, I feel quite lucky that I get to do what I love every day. However, sometimes it's a lonely job, observing American politics and reporting back to you about what I'm seeing. The specific downside is that I'll occasionally sift through a series of news items, attempting to dovetail everything I read into common themes, and occasionally my conclusions might be pegged as outlandish or even careening into the realms of tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories. Again, this is the rare exception and not the rule. But it's still a lonely place.
I'm seldom married to some of my theories, which I believe is one of many details that separates me from crackpots and mad profits. In my defense, most of my ideas fall squarely into the realms of logical reality after being funneled through various mental filters.
Sometimes, though, my experience covering politics and my sense of history will trigger a gut reaction to an event. My instincts will often give me a hint about what's going on long before the actual facts on the ground. Not always, but often enough. In fact, my instincts are particularly calibrated to Donald Trump's bullshit -- not as a consequence of my experience with liars and thieves, but because Trump's motives and actions are so utterly obvious, it's impossible sometimes to restrain my gut from seeing right through his gibberish, his grandstanding and his lies.
When Trump's general practitioner, Dr. Harold Bornstein, issued a letter about Trump's personal health back in 2015, I knew exactly what the truth was. Before we continue, here's the full text of the letter:
To Whom My Concern:
I have been the personal physician of Mr Donald J. Trump since 1980. His previous physician was my father, Dr Jacob Bornstein. Over the past 39 years, I am pleased to report that Mr Trump has had no significant medical problems. Mr Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results. Actually, his blood pressure, 110/65, and laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent.
Over the past twelve months, he has lost at least fifteen pounds, Mr Trump takes 81 mg of aspirin daily and a low dose of a statin. His PSA test score is 0.15 (very low). His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.
Mr Trump has suffered no form of cancer, has never had a hip, knee or shoulder replacement or any other orthopaedic surgery. His only surgery was an appendectomy at age ten. His cardiovascular status is excellent. He has no history of ever using alcohol or tobacco products.
If elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.
Harold N Bornstein, MD, FACG
I knew right away that it was horseshit. Trump clearly dictated the letter to Bornstein, I thought. It's written using Trump's flair for hyperbole and superlatives, and doesn't reflect the technical language of a typical doctor. Furthermore, Trump's health statistics released by Bornstein in 2016 were likewise falsified to make Trump seem healthier than he was/is.
It's been my contention since December 2015 that Trump and Trump's doctor were lying about Trump's health in a scandal rivaling the season two and three plotline of The West Wing in which President Bartlet's multiple sclerosis was concealed from the public. In case you haven't seen the show yet, spoiler warning: the attorney general appoints a special prosecutor to investigate the president, eventually leading to a congressional censure.
Enter Dr. Ronny Jackson, the Navy rear-admiral who's served as the president's personal physician and head of the White House Medical Unit since the George W. Bush administration. Jackson also seems to have repeated Bornstein's falsification of Trump's health. Jackson, during a presser in which he outlined Trump's physical condition, appeared pale, sweaty and nervous. Not the poise you'd expect from an admiral or a medical professional. He looked like he was lying, and the information he was dishing out to the press was just as hyperbolic and superlative as Bornstein's assessment.
When Jackson's nomination to run the Department of Veterans Affairs collapsed in an avalanche of sordid legal issues involving anger management problems, the distribution of controlled substances, the undocumented prescribing of opioids and the admiral's own booze consumption, I wondered whether Trump blackmailed Jackson so that he'd acquiesce to falsifying Trump's health, just like Bornstein had. I also wondered whether Trump has been a regular customer of "the Candyman's" goodies. (I've also theorized that Trump routinely slams Adderall or similar to work himself into a motormouthed lather before rallies and TV appearances. We later learned that Jackson has given out Provigil to White House staffers. Provigil is a cognitive enhancer not unlike Adderall.)
Crazy conspiracy theory territory, right?
It turns out, though, I was right about Trump dictating his own medical report to Dr. Bornstein. During an interview with CNN this week Bornstein described a harrowing scene in which Trump's goon-squad, including Trump's personal Mike Ehrmantraut, Keith Schiller, raided Bornstein's office and stole Trump's medical records without a release or any official documentation. Futhermore, Bornstein revealed that Trump wrote the above 2015 letter.
I have no idea if falsifying such a statement is illegal. But I wouldn't be shocked if that were the case. Nevertheless, it should be noted that this isn't the first time Bornstein outed Trump as the actual author of the note. In late August of 2016, Bornstein told NBC News that Trump dictated the letter to Bornstein as Trump waited outside in his limo. In other words, this is old news.
But only now is the press finally taking a harder look at these revelations.
And Ronny Jackson should be next in the hot seat. How much of his public evaluation of Trump's health was fabricated and how much of it was real? And I still want to know what really happened to Trump during his Jerusalem remarks in which he was badly slurring his speech.
The press has a duty to find out exactly why Trump is hiding his actual medical condition. Is it vanity? Or is it something more serious, like a fatal disease or substance abuse issue? In terms of the latter, we know that Trump is apparently taking both Propecia for hair loss and statins for cholesterol, both of which can cause low energy as an unwanted side effect. Is he taking something to give him additional energy beyond the caffeine in his Diet Cokes?
What is Trump hiding?
Sure, it's Trump's personal health. He's entitled to privacy, but he's also the president -- with the nuclear "biscuit" in his pocket and the fate of the world economy in his stumpy hands. A mood disorder or drug dependence could lead to calamities impacting all of us. Furthermore, what are the consequences of a president who falsifies his medical records? The fictitious Bartlet White House almost collapsed under the weight of a similar scandal. What will happen to Trump? Probably nothing, unless, of course, it's taken seriously by the press. Even then, it might not get enough air given the daily fire hose of news.
Regardless, my gut has been right about Trump far more often than wrong -- even on the crazy stuff. I'd feel better about it if it wasn't all so unnerving.