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NYT: Late podiatrist's daughters say Trump's bone spurs diagnosis was a 'favor' to avoid Vietnam War

Posted at 3:58 PM, Dec 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-26 17:58:30-05

NEW YORK, NY — The same day President Donald Trump and the first lady made a surprise visit to U.S troops in Iraq, the New York Times reported that the daughters of a late podiatrist claim their father diagnosed the then 22-year-old Trump with bone spurs as a "favor" to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

In the fall of 1968, Donald Trump received a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during the Vietnam War. For nearly 50 years, the details of the exemption and who made the diagnosis have remained a mystery. Even during Trump's presidential campaign he said he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.

On Wednesday, the New York Times released a report detailing a possible explanation involving a foot doctor in Queens, New York who rented his office from Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a favor to the elder Mr. Trump.

The daughters of podiatrist Dr. Larry Braunstein, who died in 2007, claim their father often told the story of coming to the aid of a young Donald Trump during the Vietnam War as a favor to his father.

“I know it was a favor,” said one daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56, who along with her sister, Sharon Kessel, 53, shared the family’s account for the first time publicly when contacted by The New York Times.

Elysa Braunstein said the implication from her father was that Mr. Trump did not have a disqualifying foot ailment. “But did he examine him? I don’t know,” she said.

Dr. Braunstein worked out of a ground-floor office below the Edgerton Apartments in Jamaica, Queens, which was one of dozens of buildings owned by the Trumps in the 1960s. According to records, the family sold the building in 2004.

“What he got was access to Fred Trump,” Elysa Braunstein said. “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.”

The New York Times reports that no evidence has been found to corroborate the claims made by the Braunstein sisters, who also suggested there was some involvement by another podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein, who died in 1995. Dr. Weinstein lived in two apartments in Brooklyn owned by Fred Trump, with city directories showing he moved into the first during the year Donald Trump received his exemption.

The Braunstein daughters said their father left no medical records with the family, and detailed government medical records related to the draft no longer exist, according to the National Archives.

Donald Trump spoke with The Times during an interview in 2016, where he stated that a doctor provided "a very strong letter" about the bone spurs in his heels, which he later presented to draft officials.