We learned Monday that back in February 2017, Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller and “another large man”, along with the chief legal officer of the Trump Organization “raided” the office of Trump’s then physician, Harold Bornstein. Thirty minutes later they left with all of Trump’s medical records, a likely illegal act. They also took a picture of Trump and Bornstein hanging on his office wall.
Physicians are required to maintain their patient records and may only release copies of the records to their patients, and only with a signed HIPAA form. It’s not clear though that Bornstein will make a legal case out of it. In some ways he has already extracted his revenge. When CNN inquired he admitted that his glowing assessment of Trump’s health during the 2016 campaign was not an honest assessment and that Trump basically dictated it. This is what many of us suspected at the time. Even if Trump were actually only 239 pounds at the time and actually 6’3” (he is at best 6’2”) and thus not technically obese, it was clear that he lives a largely sedentary lifestyle. If he is the healthiest 71-year-old man on the planet, God help the rest of them and they might as well regularly enjoy McDonalds and KFC like Trump does.
The “raid” occurred two days after Bornstein remarked that Trump took Propecia, a drug used to treat both enlarged prostates and to stimulate hair growth in men. Our ultra-vain president did not like this coming out. Bornstein should not have revealed this at all, as it is a breach of medical privacy. That may be another reason Bornstein is not pursuing legal remedies for this “raid”.
In any event the “raid” is extraordinary for its boldness. It’s also in these seemingly smaller matters that we gain insight into our president’s character. Trump of course has a storied history of acting first and hoping to evade the consequences by throwing lawyers at his legal troubles. For example, just today we learned that Trump did in fact reimburse his then lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 Cohen gave to porn actress Stormy Daniels. Trump of course continues to deny the affair. With this admission, it’s pretty clear that Cohen’s payment was in fact an “in-kind” contribution to the campaign, one that was not reported. It may expose Trump to criminal charges along with Cohen.
This “raid” may be bold but it was also very stupid. Trump of course has a history of doing stupid things. If the government ever needs to prove a case against him, his Twitter feed contains voluminous supporting evidence. It clearly demonstrates that above all Trump is concerned about how he is perceived. The revelation that he takes a drug to help with his hair loss would be no big deal to most men but if you are an ultra vain man then it’s a huge deal.
It’s likely that no one other than maybe Trump really believes he has the body of a man in his prime half his age. Trump though feels he must project this image and crush any facts that could prove otherwise. Bornstein had the goods on Trump including facts like how much he really weighs. It’s clear it’s much more than 239 pounds. This has spawned a girther movement and a #Girther hashtag to show how ridiculous the claim is.
Clearly, Trump is running scared. It’s likely he cannot admit this to himself, but actions like this “raid” prove his subconscious feelings. Trump is a narcissist. Narcissists simply cannot acknowledge their own faults because doing so undercuts the pillar around which they have built their lives. As a consequence narcissists like Trump are driven toward extreme behavior so their false image can be protected. It’s not protected from the rest of us, not even from Trump’s supporters who see through this façade and simply don’t care. However, it is vital to Trump to maintain his own mental health. So when he feels that false image is under threat Trump does stupid stuff like this.
The volume of stupid stuff that Trump is doing just continues to increase. This is because the pressure on him is increasing, mostly as a result of Mueller’s investigation. It is exposing the real Trump. It causes Trump to do stupid stuff like his disastrous recent interview on Fox & Friends. Trump has built for himself an elaborate house of cards. He will go to great lengths to conceal information that would conflict with his image of himself while regularly undercutting his own case in his Twitter feed and in various interviews. He doesn’t seem to be self aware enough to know that doing this is stupid. This doesn’t surprise me because if you are a narcissist then by definition you are incapable of critically reviewing your own missteps.
Dissatisfied with advice from his lawyers he has fired them all and brought in a new team more attuned to his style. He claims that he wants to testify to Robert Mueller while setting up a framework to block him from doing exactly that. More recently he has threatened to end the investigation against him, using Nixonian logic that the president is somehow above the law, something that President Nixon learned not to be true.
It’s pretty clear to me that Trump’s psychic teakettle is close to boiling over at this point. The only surprising thing is that it hasn’t quite boiled over yet. There may be a small and sane part of Trump that keeps him from doing ultimately stupid self-immolation stuff. It’s not clear if that he can maintain control over that part of himself much longer.