August 29, 2016

During his interview with NBC News, Dr. Harold Bornstein made an admission that was eye-popping. Rachel Maddow was fixed on the timing of his bogus letter about Donald Trump's health, but I've been trained in other areas, and this just leapt off the page at me.

When asked about what led to him writing the letter for Trump, Bornstein said, "I guess he called and said the Clinton organization was going publish a letter on her health."

So far so good.

He then added, "I know her physician and I know some of her health history which is really not so good, so I said, why not?"

So let's just step back there for a minute. Either her physician gave specific information about Hillary Clinton's health to Bornstein, or he's a liar.

If it's the former, he violated HIPAA, the very harsh law guarding people's medical privacy. If it's the latter, then we can also assume the letter he wrote about Donald Trump is as much of a lie as is his claim that he knows anything about Hillary Clinton's health.

Worse yet, that was clearly a "willful disclosure." If true, this is what he could possibly face:

In June 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified who can be held criminally liable under HIPAA. Covered entities and specified individuals, as explained below, whom "knowingly" obtain or disclose individually identifiable health information in violation of the Administrative Simplification Regulations face a fine of up to $50,000, as well as imprisonment up to one year. Offenses committed under false pretenses allow penalties to be increased to a $100,000 fine, with up to five years in prison. Finally, offenses committed with the intent to sell, transfer, or use individually identifiable health information for commercial advantage, personal gain or malicious harm permit fines of $250,000, and imprisonment for up to ten years.

Rachel Maddow buried the lede in her story. She was anxious to show that the doctor was not rushing to deliver a letter about Trump's health in response to the Clinton campaign. By the way, Rachel, Trump's rush to get the letter out was in response to a POLITICO article questioning his health and qualifications to be President. Based upon the previews of the letter released December 4th, it's entirely possible Trump collaborated with Bornstein on the wording of said letter.

That's not the story. The story is that this doctor, in a televised interview where he consented to be recorded, either told a complete malicious lie about Hillary Clinton's health or else he willfully and maliciously violated HIPAA.

Either way, his pronouncements about Trump's health are not to be trusted on this basis alone, much less the rest of the interview, which was equally bizarre.

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