Someone using an email address connected to Harold Bornstein, Donald Trump’s doctor, apparently doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to cash in on the GOP presidential nominee’s campaign.
Bornstein wrote a letter in December saying Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” The doctor told NBC News on Friday that he had written the letter in five minutes while a limo waited outside.
A Huffington Post reader pointed out that the letter mentioned a website that wasn’t actually registered until several months after the endorsement of Trump’s health was written, so I sent an email on Saturday afternoon to the Gmail address listed in the letter’s header.
Someone replied from the address a little after 1 a.m. on Sunday, saying he or she wanted money to talk.
“325 per hour in advance,” the person wrote.
I asked the person to confirm that they were in fact Trump’s doctor. HuffPost would not pay for an interview, I wrote, but would this person still be willing to answer some questions?
The response was curt: “No.”
Was he or she declining to do an interview, or were saying they weren’t Trump’s doctor?
“Yes, no,” the person wrote back.
I was still confused, so I phrased the question more directly: “You are Mr. Trump’s doctor and wrote the letter attesting to his health, correct?”
“No interview, senza soldi,” the person wrote back, using an Italian phrase that means “without money.”
“Are you Donald Trump’s doctor. Yes or no?” I asked.
“Quanti soldi?” the person wrote back, which means “how much money?” in Italian.
A follow-up question was also answered in Italian, and also referenced money.
Finally, I asked why the person was writing to me in Italian. I didn’t receive a response.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exchange.
Gizmodo reported on Friday that a photo of Bornstein appears to show that he uses Windows XP, an outdated operating system that could make a computer less secure. Not using an up-to-date operating system may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, according to the outlet.
Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN, wrote in a HuffPost blog post earlier this month that it was unusual for a doctor to list a Gmail address on a professional letter because the email service is not a secure method of communication.
Both Trump and Hillary Clinton ― the two oldest candidates to face off against each other in a presidential election ― have released limited data about their health. Trump and his surrogates have peddled the suggestion, unsubstantiated by evidence, that Clinton is concealing something about her health.
UPDATE, Aug. 30 ― The Huffington Post was referred to the Trump campaign when it contacted Bornstein’s office multiple times to find out if the doctor speaks Italian. One of Bornstein’s online biographies lists him as fluent in Italian. The person using Bornstein’s email address denied that a Twitter account with several tweets in Italian belonged to him.
A GoFundMe campaign to raise money to interview the person using Bornstein’s account has raised just $20 so far.