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Why You Can't Trust the White House on Donald Trump's Health



You shouldn't just believe them.

Which is not to say that what happened on Saturday was no less or maybe even routine. What is to say is that this is a president and a White House that has set a standard of dishonesty and stupidity – up to and including the president's health – that should force every rational person to question the explanation currently offered by the White House.

Remember what we already know about the president's health. Trump is 73 years old and is the oldest person ever elected to a first term as president. In his latest physical examination – which was conducted in February – he clocked in 243 pounds.

In his previous physical, conducted in 201
8, Trump had been diagnosed with a common form of heart disease and high cholesterol. (As CNN's top medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta noted at the time, Trump's heart disease meant that the president had a moderate risk of a heart attack for the next 3-5 years, according to guidance from the Mayo Clinic.)

At the time of his physical 2018 suggested Dr. Ronny Jackson, who then served as the president's physician, told the president to change his diet and go on a regular exercise program. Apart from regular golf rounds, there is very little public evidence that Trump has taken this advice to heart. Sources told CNN that a year later, Trump had made only minor changes to his food intake and exercise habits.

"The president was given a diet and exercise plan last year after his annual physical, but the president admits he has not followed it religiously," said Hogan Gidley, chief secretary of the White House press secretary.

Now think about what we know about Trump's visit to Walter Reed on Saturday. It was unplanned. Unlike his previous physique, it was not on his public schedule and was not announced to reporters. The medical staff did not cause a "VIP" guest to arrive, as they usually would. While White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the trip was simply that Trump got a jump on his annual physical, he had not physically done it in phases or for several days over the past two years.

So, there's reason – lots of it! — to wonder. Especially when you consider that Trump has shown some hesitation against doctors, um, doctors' reports in the past.

In December 2015, shortly before the vote began in the Republican presidential primary, Trump released a letter from his longtime physician Dr. Harold Bornstein.

"His physical strength and endurance are extraordinary," Bornstein wrote of Trump. "If I choose, Mr. Trump, I can say unequivocally that I will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

If it seemed that Trump had written the letter himself, it was because he had done it! Bornstein told CNN 2018 that Trump "dictated this entire letter. I didn't write that letter. I only did it when I joined."

So, the paper-thin medical "record" provided by Trump to silence questions about whether he was physically and mentally up to the job of president. It was not based on Bornstein's medical assessment. It was Trump who did what he always does – and worked out a story to tell himself and the public.

(Trump, it is also worth noting, repeatedly tried to make Hillary Clinton's health an issue in the 2016 campaign – especially after she was seen feeling weak at a memorial on September 11.)
Given that the story – and the fact that Trump has made more than 13,000 false or misleading statements since taking office, according to The Washington Post's Fact Checker – there is every reason to suspect the original story that the White House tells doesn't paint the whole picture.

"We will not enter into security and motion protocols for the president, but as my statements said he is in good health and it was a routine check as part of his annual physical," Grisham told CNN . "I have made many statements that were truthful and accurate – actively trying to find and report conspiracy theories really need to stop."

Which is exactly the problem. By his own account, Grisham provided "lots of on-the-record statements that were truthful and accurate." Which of course means she has given some that it is not.

This – right here – is why a White House that lies as easily as it says the truth creates major problems for the media and the country. How can we take the White House word for it when this word has been false on so many occasions? The answer is that we cannot speak for it. And you shouldn't either.


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