Donald Trump dictated letter describing his health as 'astonishingly excellent', claims president's former doctor.
A letter from Donald Trump's New York physician released by his campaign in 2015 declaring he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency" was composed by the candidate himself, the doctor said on Tuesday.
Harold Bornstein, Mr Trump's longtime personal doctor, described the incident in a number of interviews on Tuesday, during which he also claimed Mr Trump's bodyguard took possession of the president's medical records in an episode that felt like a "raid."
With his long flowing hair and large glasses, Dr Bornstein became a colourful character in Mr Trump's unlikely 2016 campaign for the presidency. In a letter released in December 2015, Dr Bornstein wrote that Mr Trump would "unequivocally" be the healthiest president in history and deemed the celebrity businessman's condition "astonishingly excellent."
Dr Bornstein has said in the past he wrote the note about Mr Trump's health in five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his office.
On Tuesday, he elaborated on that, saying the missive was composed by the candidate himself.
"He dictated that whole letter. I didn't write that letter," Dr Bornstein told CNN.
"Mr. Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results," said the letter signed by Bornstein, who said he had treated Trump since 1980.
"Actually, his blood pressure, 110/65, and laboratory results were astonishingly excellent. His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary," the letter said. "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."
Mr Trump read out the language as Dr Bornstein and his wife were driving across Central Park, the doctor told CNN.
"(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn't put in there," he said.
Dr Bornstein also told NBC News that Keith Schiller, the president's longtime bodyguard and former director of Oval Office operations, showed up at his office in February 2017 along with two other men to collect the records, leaving Dr Bornstein feeling "raped, frightened and sad."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed the doctor's characterisation of the episode.
"As is standard operating procedure for a new president, the White House Medical Unit took possession of the president's medical records," she told reporters at a White House briefing.
As for Dr Bornstein's description that it had had the feel of a raid, she said, "No, that is not my understanding."
Dr Bornstein told NBC that Schiller and another "large man" were in his office about 30 minutes and "created a lot of chaos." The doctor said the two men were joined by Alan Garten, the chief legal officer for the Trump Organisation. A spokeswoman for the Trump Organisation did not respond to a request for comment.
The incident at Dr Bornstein's office came two days after the doctor told The New York Times that Mr Trump takes Propecia, a drug for enlarged prostates that is often prescribed to stimulate hair growth in men. Dr Bornstein told the Times that he prescribed Mr Trump drugs for rosacea and cholesterol as well.
Dr Bornstein told NBC that Mr Trump's longtime personal secretary called him after the story ran and said: "So you wanted to be the White House doctor? Forget it, you're out.'"
Dr Bornstein said he wasn't given a form authorising him to release Mr Trump's records, but said Mr Schiller and Mr Garten took the originals and copies of Mr Trump's charts and lab reports, including records filed under pseudonyms the office used.
Questions were raised about the legality of the seizure. Patients have a right to a copy of their medical records but the original physical record belongs to the doctor, said Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado.
"If a patient wants a copy, they can have a copy, but they don't get the original. Patients can also ask for their records to be transferred to a new doctor, but that also involves making copies (i.e., transferring the information), not literally packaging up the originals and sending them off," Dr Wynia said in an email.
Most states require doctors to keep and maintain records, Dr Wynia said. Federal patient privacy law bars doctors from relinquishing records without a signed release from the patient.
"Law enforcement can get copies of medical records, under some specific circumstances, but it doesn't seem like the people gathering these records were acting as law enforcement officers," Dr Wynia said.
Dr Bornstein did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Mr Schiller departed the White House last autumn and also could not be reached.
Dr Bornstein's return to the headlines comes just days after Mr Trump's White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination to the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs after allegations of workplace misconduct. Dr Jackson has denied the claims.