Trump's strange request during surprise 2019 trip to Walter Reed explains why his COVID treatment is shrouded in secrecy

Trump's strange request during surprise 2019 trip to Walter Reed explains why his COVID treatment is shrouded in secrecy
President Donald J. Trump greets supporters during a drive by outside of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Donald Trump's obsession with nondisclosure agreements is well known, but this is next level. During Trump's mysterious trip to Walter Reed in November 2019, he demanded his doctors sign NDAs—and two doctors who refused to sign weren't allowed to treat him. That's important context for interpreting the information his doctors are giving out now about his status with COVID-19.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, already offers patients legal privacy protections, so why did Trump think an extra layer of gag was necessary? And in November 2019, Trump was at Walter Reed unexpectedly, without the staff there having been warned he was coming, for what the White House later claimed was part of a routine physical (except that nothing about it was routine, including the fact that physicals aren't usually done in multiple parts). But NDAs were required.

This is all especially relevant now that Trump has COVID-19 and his doctors are offering conflicting timelines of when he got sick and when he started which medications. They're refusing to say when he last tested negative for the virus. They're telling the public Trump is doing great even as they are prescribing him medications intended for seriously ill people.

Trump's doctors are not telling the public information we need to have not about Donald Trump the individual but about how well the president of the United States is or isn't functioning. Can he breathe? When was he potentially exposing other people to a deadly virus, and did he know he was doing so? Is his personality being affected by steroids?

But his policy is to lie, even when it's obvious, and, we now learn, to only allow himself to be treated by doctors who will sign nondisclosure agreements. We can't trust anything we're being told about Trump's health. He's telling us that himself, again and again.

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