Since the Vietnam era, Donald Trump has used medical professionals to bend the truth and compromise their professional ethics in order to do their patient’s bidding. The openly misleading and evasive information by White House physician Dr. Sean Conley was so egregious on Saturday that even White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows felt it necessary to correct the record.
Yet Conley continues to detour around the facts rather than give Americans a straightforward picture of the president’s health. Lying to the American public serves no one’s interests other than Trump’s. Yet Conley’s behavior is par for the course.
As far back as 1968, when Trump faced the Vietnam draft, a Queens podiatrist issued a diagnosis of a bone spur to help the future president evade service. The diagnosis, the doctor’s daughters later stated, appeared to have been concocted as a favor to Trump’s father.
Fast forward to December 2015, as Trump pursued the Republican presidential nomination. Despite obvious obesity and preference for fatty fast foods, Trump’s website posted a letter carrying the signature of Manhattan gastroenterologist Dr. Harold Bornstein declaring that the candidate “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” The letter bore all the signs of having been dictated by Trump himself.
In 2018, Bornstein told CNN that Trump “dictated that whole letter. I didn’t write that letter.” He told NBC that various Trump aides conducted a “raid” on his office and seized the president’s medical records after a New York Times story provided a list of all the medications Trump took to control baldness, skin problems, cholesterol and lipids.
Trump’s first White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, issued a bizarre statement in 2018 after a presidential physical, describing the president as having “good genes” that miraculously kept him in good health despite obesity and a diet heavy with red meat, fast food and ice cream. Jackson left office under a cloud. He is currently seeking the West Texas congressional seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry. Trump backs Jackson. Thornberry, a staunch conservative, pointedly does not.
At the Walter Reed military hospital in Maryland, where Trump spent the weekend, Conley delivered a gushing appraisal of the president’s progress, omitting key details that would have made clear how serious Trump’s condition really was. Conley, a military doctor whose commander-in-chief is his patient, later acknowledged that he knew Trump was watching and so had measured his remarks. Conley provided details of experimental drugs Trump was taking and other positive-sounding information, but whenever pressed for details that could reveal complications, Conley hid behind federal patient-privacy laws to avoid answering.