As President Trump faces criticism for being the first president not to visit U.S. troops on Christmas since 2002 — he chose a to hold a video conference this year — comes a new claim that could inflict further damage on his reputation with the military.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that the two daughters of a late Queens podiatrist are going public with a claim that their father diagnosed the future president with bone spurs in 1968 as a favor to his landlord, Trump patriarch Fred C. Trump. The diagnosis allowed Donald Trump to get a medical exemption that allowed him to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.
Dr. Elysa Braunstein and Sharon Kessel — the daughters of Dr. Larry Braunstein, who died in 2007 — say their father was one of Fred Trump’s tenants at the time, setting up his podiatry practice in the Trump-owned Edgerton Apartments in Jamaica, Queens. Though they are unsure whether their dad actually examined the then 22-year-old Donald Trump, the sisters say that he often spoke of signing off on the diagnosis that kept Trump out of the war. The doctor also gave them the impression that Trump didn’t actually have bone spurs, but he said otherwise to help keep him out of the draft, they say.
“I know it was a favor,” Braunstein told the New York Times, noting her father’s cordial relationship with Trump’s real estate developer father.
“What he got was access to Fred Trump,” she added. “If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.”
The sisters say they recall their father’s friend and fellow podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein, was also somehow involved with the bone spur diagnosis. Weinstein died in 1995.
No medical records corroborate the sisters’ claims, but Trump has been vague about how he got the diagnosis. Though he has hinted that he has records of his medical history, they have not been made public, and he has previously admitted he did not remember his doctor’s name. `The White House has not responded to questions about Braunstein’s alleged involvement.
Trump’s bone spur diagnosis has been mocked by critics, who have accused him of pulling strings to avoid being sent to war. Now, the Times report has set off a new wave of ridicule and speculation.