Daughters of a deceased podiatrist say it’s “family lore” that their father helped Donald Trump, long before he became president, avoid being drafted for military service in Vietnam, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
Elysa Braunstein and Sharon Kessel, the daughters of Larry Braunstein, told the Times that their father — as a ‘favor’ — provided the fall 1968 diagnosis of bone spurs that helped Trump get a medical exemption. In return, the doctor received access to Fred Trump, Trump’s father and owner of the Queens building in which Larry Braunstein’s practice operated.
“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,” Elysa Braunstein told the Times, referring to the president’s father.
The Times could not find documentation from the family, the doctor who bought Braunstein’s practice or the National Archives to corroborate the daughters' recollection. The White House did not respond to requests from the Times to follow up.
Larry Braunstein died in 2007.
Trump received four deferments from the draft while studying at Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania, although he’d been found fit for duty during an examination in 1966, and had been a football and baseball player at New York Military Academy. After graduation, Trump was eligible to be drafted, but as The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reported in 2015:
Trump’s exposure to the draft, however, didn’t last long. Two months later, on Sept. 17, 1968, he reported for an armed forces physical examination and was medically disqualified, according to the ledger from his local Selective Service System draft board in Jamaica, N.Y., now in the custody of the National Archives.
The ledger does not detail why Trump failed the exam — the Selective Service destroyed all medical records and individual files after the draft ended in 1973 and the military converted to an all-volunteer force.
In recent days, Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, and his campaign have said that he received the medical deferment because he had bone spurs in his feet. But rather than clear up all questions about why he did not serve in the military during the Vietnam era, they have given shifting accounts that are at odds with the few remaining documents in his Selective Service file.
Trump has given limited information about the nature of his medical ailment from 1968 that left him classified as “1-Y,” or unqualified for duty except in the case of a national emergency.
Another doctor reached by the Times suggested that Braunstein “spoke very highly” of the Trumps because they worked with him on the rent for his office space.
The daughters said their father was initially proud to have helped someone famous but later grew tired of Donald Trump’s tabloid and reality-TV antics. The doctor had been a Democrat, and the daughters say they are, as well. They also told the Times that they are not fans of Trump.