Three men from the White House allegedly went to the office of President Donald Trump's former doctor and confiscated the president's medical records. The doctor said he felt “raped, frightened, and sad” following the February 2017 event. The White House called it “standard procedure.”
Dr. Harold Bornstein was Trump's personal physician for decades before he ran for office. In 2015, during the campaign, Bornstein became notorious after he signed a statement that stated, in part, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
He also referred to Trump's health as “astonishingly excellent.”
Bornstein later told NBC News that he had written that statement in five minutes while a limousine sent by Trump waited for him.
On Feb. 2, 2017, the New York Times ran a story in which Bornstein said that he had prescribed a hair growth drug to Trump. He also volunteered that Trump regularly took baby aspirin for heart health, statins to control his cholesterol, and that he was taking antibiotics for a common skin condition.
The next day, according to Bornstein, Keith Schiller, Trump's longtime bodyguard; Alan Garten, a top lawyer at the Trump Organization; and an unidentified third man went to Bornstein's office and seized all medical records related to the president.
What did the doctor say?
“I feel raped. That's how I feel,” Bornstein told NBC News. “Raped, frightened, and sad. I couldn't believe anyone was making a big deal out of a drug that was to grow his hair, which 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?”
There are legitimate exceptions to doctor/patient confidentiality laws, typically regarding criminal investigations and when mandated by a court order, but disclosure of a hair growth prescription to a newspaper does not appear to qualify as a valid exception.
Bornstein claimed that the men did not have a proper release form with them, causing the confiscation to violate HIPAA law regarding doctor/patient confidentiality.
The White House claimed that it did send a letter over, but the person NBC News spoke with was not sure whether or not then-White House doctor Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson also sent over the appropriate release form.
Bornstein also claims that the men told him to take a framed picture of himself with Trump off the wall.
What did the White House say?
In a media briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders addressed this issue:
It would be standard procedure for the president's, a newly elected president's, medical records to be in possession by the White House Medical Unit, and that was what was taking place, as those records were being transferred over to the White House Medical Unit, as requested.
While the files were seized the day after Borstein's Times interview was published, it also came just two weeks after Trump was sworn into office.
Sanders on the president’s medical records being taken from his NYC doctor’s office: “The standard procedure for the president, a newly elected president's medical records to be in possession by the White House medical unit. That's what was taking place” https://t.co/O9r49T4hVg pic.twitter.com/4T0ug5Ti1n
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 1, 2018