(JTA) — We already knew that Harold Bornstein, M.D., personal physician to President-elect Donald Trump, was a bit unconventional.
To recap: His public letter about Trump’s health, released a year ago, included a typo and was swimming with hyperbole, assuring readers that Trump “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” We also learned that the doctor is an Italian aficionado, delivering a speech in the language at his son’s bar mitzvah.
Now, a three-hour interview that Bornstein, a gastroenterologist, gave to the medical publication Stat has filled out the picture — and it hasn’t really changed much. Here are some nuggets from the colorful portrait of the Jewish man who keeps Trump healthy.
He sounds relaxed about the prospect of Trump dying in office.
Bornstein — who took over the practice of his father, Jacob, who grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home — hadn’t considered that, at 70, Trump would be the oldest president ever to take office. But the doctor isn’t too worried about the threat of his passing away.
“If something happens to him, then it happens to him,” Bornstein told Stat. “It’s like all the rest of us, no? That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”
Bornstein isn’t sure whether he’ll move to Washington, D.C., to continue attending to Trump. But if he does, he’s not planning to regularly share information publicly on the president’s health.
“Ronald Reagan had pre-senile dementia,” Bornstein said. “I mean, seriously, did they share that one with you, or did Nancy just cover it up?”
He called Hillary Clinton “an old lady.”
Trump’s pretty healthy, Bornstein said: “He’s a few pounds overweight, which everybody can see, and that’s it.”
But the doctor wasn’t as kind in his assessment of Trump’s defeated rival, Hillary Clinton. While Bornstein said Trump isn’t “an old man the way my grandfather was an old man,” he called Clinton “an old lady. She’s an old lady. It’s funny, isn’t it?”
(During the campaign, Bornstein claimed to know some of Clinton’s health history, which he deemed “not so good.”)
He took Italian lessons from women he found on Craigslist.
Bornstein has tweeted and emailed in Italian, and the back of his business card says “dottore molto famoso” (translation: very famous doctor).
How did he learn the language? According to Stat, “for 10 years, he took private Italian lessons from women he found through Craigslist postings, paying them about $60 an hour for weekly sessions.”
Like Trump, he isn’t a fan of the press.
Since releasing the health report, Bornstein has been media shy (including declining a request, in Italian, from this reporter). He apparently demanded cash in exchange for an interview with the Huffington Post.
Stat was able to speak with Bornstein after the publication contacted his sons. But five days after the interview, Bornstein threatened the publication and demanded that no article be published.
“I happen to have known the Sulzbergers for 50 years,” Bornstein told Stat, referring to the owners of The New York Times. “I’m going to make sure you don’t ever work again if you do this.”
He saves on administrative costs by putting Scotch tape on medical forms.
Bornstein is no fan of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, because it gives too much power to insurance companies, according to Stat.
But he’s found a clever workaround for the rising costs of practicing medicine: When the billing and diagnosis codes changed for health insurance claims forms, Bornstein decided to place Scotch tape over two parts of the form, which somehow allowed him to get around upgrading his computer system, according to Stat.
“He loves being this sort of creative, out-of-the-box sort of guy nobody really understands, you know?” said his son Jeremee, a student at Tufts University in Boston.