The White House has said Donald Trump’s former bodyguard did nothing out of the ordinary when he took the president’s medical records, despite a claim by Mr Trump’s former doctor that the episode felt like a “raid”.
Harold Bornstein, the president’s long-time personal doctor, told NBC News that Keith Schiller, the president’s bodyguard and former director of Oval Office operations, showed up at his office in February 2017 with two other men to collect the records.
Dr Bornstein said the incident left him feeling “raped, frightened and sad”.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed the doctor’s account 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 the feel of a raid, she said: “No, that is not my understanding.”
Dr Bornstein told NBC that Mr Schiller and another “large man” were in his office for about 30 minutes and “created a lot of chaos”.
He said the two men were joined by Alan Garten, the chief legal officer for the Trump Organisation.
The incident came two days after the doctor told the New York Times that Mr Trump took Propecia, a drug for enlarged prostates that is often prescribed to stimulate hair growth in men.
Dr Bornstein told the Times he prescribed Mr Trump drugs for rosacea – a skin condition affecting the face – and cholesterol as well.
He told NBC that Mr Trump’s 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 was not 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 Centre 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, not literally packaging up the originals and sending them off,” 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.