FactCheck: Fake Clinton medical records in circulation
Despite the fact that Hillary Clinton got a clean bill of health from her doctor, fake medical records for Clinton are circulating on some conservative websites, purporting to show that she suffers from seizures and dementia.
Clinton’s longtime physician — whose name appears atop the alleged “leaked” documents — released a statement to FactCheck.org calling the documents “false,” and reiterating her diagnosis that Clinton is “in excellent health and fit to serve as President of the United States.”
The fake records are making the rounds just as some in the conservative media have been baselessly questioning Clinton’s health. Among them was Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who played a tape of Clinton vigorously shaking her head in a manner he deemed “seizure-esque” (although neither of the medical experts on his program agreed).
The doctored documents play off Clinton’s very real concussion in December 2012 — which caused her to suffer double vision for nearly two months starting in late 2012. But her longtime physician, Lisa Bardack, director of internal medicine, Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical, says follow-up medical exams in 2013 “revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion.”
The letter purports to indicate that Clinton suffered complications from a 2012 concussion including “blacking out,” “uncontrollable twitching” and “memory loss.” It says Clinton has previously been diagnosed as having “Complex Partial Seizures” and “early-onset Subcortical Vascular Dementia.” The images were shared and discussed on numerous websites and in social media. But again, we can’t stress this enough: It’s a fake document.
The same Twitter user later posted what was purported to be a magnetic resonance angiogram of Clinton’s brain showing a significant “abnormality” in the brain tissue. This is also a bogus image.
In a statement provided to FactCheck.org by the Clinton campaign, Bardack dismissed the authenticity of these documents, saying they are “false, were not written by me and are not based on any medical facts.”
Bardack, Aug. 16: As Secretary Clinton’s long time physician, I released a medical statement during the campaign indicating that she is in excellent health. I have recently been made aware of allegedly “leaked” medical documents regarding Secretary Clinton with my name on them. These documents are false, were not written by me and are not based on any medical facts. To reiterate what I said in my previous statement, Secretary Clinton is in excellent health and fit to serve as President of the United States.
Bardack, who has served as Clinton’s personal physician since 2001, did publicly release a summary of Clinton’s health history and a medical evaluation in a letter dated July 28, 2015. It paints a much different picture than the fake documents.
According to Bardack’s letter, Clinton “is a healthy 67-year-old female whose current medical conditions include hypothyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies.”
The letter discusses Clinton’s concussion — well-documented in the media at the time — and some of the lingering effects she suffered from it. As the New York Times noted in December 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion after fainting and striking her head. Bardack’s letter said Clinton suffered a stomach virus after traveling, and became dehydrated, which caused her to faint.
Bardack, July 28, 2015: During follow up evaluations, Mrs. Clinton was found to have a transverse sinus venous thrombosis and began anticoagulation therapy to dissolve the clot. As a result of the concussion, Mrs. Clinton also experienced double vision for a period of time and benefited from wearing glasses with a Fresnel Prism.
Here’s Clinton in those much-discussed glasses, which her aide acknowledged at the time was “because of lingering issues stemming from her concussion.”
Bardack said Clinton’s symptoms, including the double vision, went away within two months.
Bardack, July 28, 2015: She had follow-up testing in 2013, which revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion as well as total dissolution of the thrombosis.
Bardack said Clinton’s most recent physical examination on March 21, 2015, “revealed a healthy-appearing female.” Bardack said Clinton has a healthy diet and exercises regularly, including yoga, swimming, walking and weight training.
Bardack, July 28, 2015: In summary, Mrs. Clinton is a healthy female with hypothyroidism and seasonal allergies, on long-term anticoagulation. She participates in a healthy lifestyle and has had a full medical evaluation, which reveals no evidence of additional medical issues or cardiovascular disease. her cancer screening evaluations are all negative. She is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States.
Despite the public release of Bardack’s medical evaluation, some conservative pundits have questioned Clinton’s health and ability to serve as president.
On Fox News, Sean Hannity repeatedly speculated about serious health issues for Clinton. Hannity showed clips of Clinton in the midst of a coughing fit in February, stumbling while boarding a plane in 2011, and dramatically shaking her head during a press scrum in June (which Hannity said “almost looks seizure-esque to me”). Never mind that two medical experts on the program said the video did not appear to show seizures, though both called for a disclosure of medical records for both presidential candidates.
Hannity, Aug. 10: That last one in particular is so odd to me. What was your take?
Dr. Fiona Gupta, neurologist, North Shore Brain and Spine Center: You know, it’s just so hard to speculate based on snippets of the clips that, you know, what is going on without having a full examination and workup.
Hannity: Look at this video right here. Watch her reaction, because I’m not — it almost seems seizure-esque to me.
Gupta: There are different types of seizures, local seizures that sometimes can cause just one body part, but it would be very rare. I mean, typically seizures will generalize, so I can’t say that’s a seizure.
Hannity: Aren’t there many seizures like that, Dr. Siegel?
Dr. Marc Siegel, Fox News medical contributor: I’m not a neurologist, and I don’t think that necessarily looks like a seizure, but I will say this …
An Associated Press reporter who was among those shouting questions to Clinton during the press scrum inside a muffin shop called it an “innocuous exchange” that has “become the fodder for one of some Trump supporters’ most popular conspiracy theories: her failing health.”
“Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds,” AP reporter Lisa Lerer later wrote. “Video of the moment shows me holding out my recorder in front of her, laughing and stepping back in surprise. After the exchange, she took a few more photos, exited the shop and greeted supporters waiting outside.”
An opinion writer for Newsweek, who has epilepsy, wrote that Clinton’s movements looked “nothing like” a seizure. The writer called Hannity’s speculation degrading to people with epilepsy, and he demanded an apology.
But Hannity isn’t the only one questioning Clinton’s physical fitness to be president. Though he was vague, Clinton’s Republican opponent, Donald Trump, said in a speech on foreign policy on Aug. 15 that Clinton “lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS, and all of the many adversaries we face – not only in terrorism, but in trade and every other challenge we must confront to turn our great country around.”
Neither Trump nor Hannity referenced the fake medical documents purporting to be from Dr. Bardack. But their baseless speculation is also refuted by the public statements and medical evaluation released by Clinton’s longtime doctor.