President Donald Trump has remained cagey on the subject of his apparent draft dodging during the Vietnam War, saying only that he had received a medical exemption for "temporary" bone spurs. But according to a New York Times investigation, a Queens podiatrist may have helped Trump secure a permanent deferment in exchange for extra benevolent treatment from his landlord: Donald's father, Fred.
The Times reports that the now-deceased Dr. Larry Braunstein occupied an office at the base of the Trump-owned Edgerton Apartments in Jamaica, Queens, during the 1960s. Although they lack access to their father's medical records, Braunstein's daughters—Elysa Braunstein and Sharon Kessel—recall Dr. Braunstein as doing a solid for Trump's father. Apparently, he talked about this "favor" he performed for a "famous guy" all the goddamn time, so often that the favor became "family lore," according to Elysa.
D.J. Trump underwent a physical exam in 1966, after which he was declared fit for service. He subsequently was granted deferrals four times on educational grounds, before he obtained a temporary medical exemption in October 1968. His 1-Y classification changed to an 4-F, or permanent disqualification, when the former category was retired in 1972.
Elysa admitted that she doesn't know if her father actually examined the mogul-to-be, but said he intimated that the bone spurs—which conveniently appeared on Trump's heels at the eleventh hour—did not really exist. But in return for saying they did, Dr. Braunstein may have received particularly accommodating treatment from father Trump.
"What he got was access to Fred Trump," Elysa told the Times. "If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got." A friend of Braunstein's told the Times that Fred Trump also allowed the podiatrist to rent his office at a low rate.
In explaining how he somehow managed to come up with a medical condition at the precise moment he ran out of other draft dodging options, the president has nodded to a very high draft number (which, as the Times points out, would've been irrelevant in 1968), and to a "very strong" letter from a physician. He has also argued that, during the Vietnam War, he lacked the influence necessary to conjure up a phony bill of health.
"I didn't have power in those days," Trump previously told a biographer, according to the Times. "My father was a Brooklyn developer, so it wasn't like today." Forget that annual $200,000 Trump was reportedly making by the time he hit three!
Braunstein may have had some help from another doctor, one Manny Weinstein, who moved into a Trump-owned Brooklyn apartment building in 1968. Although the Times notes that the nature of Weinstein's possible role remains unclear, he may have provided one of those compelling letters to the draft board; indeed, the Braunstein sisters float the idea that Weinstein himself could have had a personal connection to the draft board that would have exempted Trump from service.
Trump has made a habit of ridiculing people who actually did serve in the war, having suggested that the late Senator John McCain—who spent five years as a POW in Vietnam—was only considered a hero because he had been captured, and that the more heroic action would've been simply not getting caught. Trump has also harassed Senator Richard Blumenthal (or, as Trump calls him, Da Nang Dick) over his misrepresentation of his Vietnam-era military service, complaining that Blumenthal "LIED" about the nature of his duty.
Meanwhile, the extent of Trump's knowledge about the conflict seems to have come from Apocalypse Now, a movie he does not appear to remember with particular accuracy. Perhaps he would have more firsthand experience if not for (allegedly) a set of very convincing doctors' notes.