Trump's Bone Spurs Used to Avoid Vietnam Were Diagnosed as a 'Favor,' Doctor's Family Claims
While it’s long been known that President Donald Trump was medically exempt from fighting in the Vietnam War because he was diagnosed with bone spurs in his heels in 1968, the exact details of that diagnosis have remained publicly unclear — including the doctor who saw Trump.
According to The New York Times, Trump, now 72, said during his presidential campaign that he couldn’t remember who made the fateful call, when he was 22.
But a new report from the Times, published Wednesday, suggests that a local podiatrist who rented office space in New York City from the 45th commander-in-chief’s father may have been responsible as a “favor” to the elder Trump.
The daughters of the doctor, Larry Braunstein, who died in 2007, told the paper that their father often recounted the story of helping out the Trumps.
“I know it was a favor,” said Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56. She further explained the implication: The younger Trump did not actually have the foot condition and her father made the diagnosis because Fred C. Trump was such a good landlord. She said she doesn’t know if her dad even conducted an examination of the younger Trump.
“It was family lore,” she added. “It was something we would always discuss.”
The Times noted the Braunstein family account was not corroborated by known documents, largely due to the passing years. According to the National Archives, most of the government’s medical paperwork relating to the draft no longer exists, and Braunstein left no medical records with his relatives.
Elysa also revealed that her dad, a Democrat who served during World War II, was initially proud to come to the aid of a local “famous guy.” But he started to dislike the president years ago, as his reality TV career blossomed and he became a tabloid fixture.
The White House press secretary did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment and did not answer questions from the Times.
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Trump, who frequently responds to coverage of his family and presidency via Twitter, has not yet spoken publicly about the Times article. He traveled overnight Wednesday to visit troops stationed in Iraq.
According to the paper, the Trump family’s connection with Larry Braunstein may have been based on proximity: His office was on the ground floor of a Trump-owned building in Jamaica, Queens.
His daughters and a coworker told the Times that the landlord was always quick address any problems with the facility and avoided raising rent.
The president’s medical deferral from the Vietnam War, his fifth after four education-related ones, was a frequent source of criticism during the 2016 election.
In an interview with the Times in 2016, Trump said he received “a very strong letter on the heels” from a doctor, referring to the bone spurs.
Previously, the real estate mogul has also insisted it was ultimately his high draft lottery number that kept him out of battle — but the Times reported that his medical deferment was confirmed more than a year before the drawing.