A few initial thoughts on President Trump’s former doctor and what he describes as a “raid” on his office carried out by Trump’s longtime bodyguard, then a government employee at the White House, the top lawyer at the Trump organization and an unidentified “team” of Schiller’s.
First, it appears that what triggered this ‘raid’ was that Dr. Harold Bornstein had discussed with The New York Times prescribing Trump Propecia, a medication used to stimulate hair growth and also to treat an enlarged prostate. Bornstein had earlier been authorized to discuss Trump’s health with members of the press. That was the origin of that bizarre letter from the campaign.
But given that Trump didn’t seem happy about the Propecia news, it seems like Bornstein may not have had Trump’s permission to discuss his history. That is a big, big no, no. I’ll leave it to medical ethicists and HIPAA experts to discuss, but this could well get Bornstein in legal trouble. You need a patient’s permission to discuss someone’s medical history/records. Full stop. You need it even to talk to another physician, let alone to discuss it with a reporter who will spread the news around the world.
As is so often the case in the Trump Era you have the mix of goon antics and the weird commingling of private and public spheres. Schiller was at the time the Director of Oval Office operations at the White House, a government employee. (Schiller was Trump’s former longtime bodyguard and this was a position which sorta kinda allowed him to keep that role, notwithstanding Trump’s Secret Service protection.) Schiller brought a team of other people, presumably also government employees. They also brought the top lawyer from the private company (The Trump Organization) from which Trump has at least purportedly cut all ties. They seem to have entered the office and simply confiscated what they wanted to confiscate. We don’t know whether Schiller came in in a heavy-handed way but did ask permission to take Trump’s records. Maybe he did. But this is a government employee. Did they search Bornstein’s files on their own? Did that allow them to see other people’s private medical records? There’s a lot of pretty big questions here, some HIPAA related, others potentially criminal.
Trump clearly has a right to take possession of his medical records just like any of us do. But it doesn’t seem like they came with a HIPPA release – which you definitely need in this case. Presumably, Trump sent this squad there. So we can assume he did want his records taken. But that’s not enough. We all know from our own lives that when you transfer your medical records you need to grant explicit permission, usually in writing.