During an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen on Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin went above and beyond in praising his boss.
“This guy’s got more stamina than anybody I’ve ever met,” Mnuchin said of Trump. “I mean, I thought I was in good shape. I traveled with him all the time… I mean, it’s unbelievable. He’ s constantly doing things.”
Allen asked Mnuchin how that’s possible, given that the 70-year-old Trump is known to enjoy fast food and admits he doesn’t exercise.
“He’s got perfect genes,” Mnuchin said of Trump. “He has incredible energy, and he’s unbelievably healthy.”
Mnuchin doesn’t seem to have been joking. Watch for yourself.
Steve Mnuchin: Trump has perfect genes pic.twitter.com/tMSvcxsjNZ
— Axios (@axios) March 24, 2017
Mnuchin’s over-the-top comments about Trump “perfect genes” echoes what Trump has repeatedly said about himself. During a CNN interview in 2010, for instance, Trump attributed his success to having “a certain gene.”
“I’m a gene believer,” Trump said. “Hey, when you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse, and I really had a good gene pool from the standpoint of that.”
A 2016 New Yorker piece detailed some of Trump’s many references to his genetics on the campaign trail:
In South Carolina, earlier this year, he noted, “Dr. John Trump at M.I.T.; good genes, very good genes, O.K., very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart.” (Donald Trump was at Wharton as an undergraduate, after transferring from Fordham.) To the Boston Globe: “My father’s brother was a brilliant man . . . We have very good genetics.” And then on NBC, after telling Lester Holt that his uncle was a professor at M.I.T.: “I mean it’s a good gene pool right there” — he pointed to his head — “I have to do what I have to do.”
This might seem like idle chatter. But as we covered last summer, the link Trump makes between his good genetics and his fitness to lead comes out of the white supremacist playbook. For instance, Stormfront’s mission statement claims that “a great deal (possibly 90% or more) of a person’s intelligence and character is determined by their DNA, which determines the structure of their brain before they are born. This is why Blacks, as a group, do the things they do.”
Media Matters for America President Angelo Carusone told ThinkProgress that Trump’s comments fit within that fringe worldview.
“He constantly cites his own genetic background and argued that his brain is biologically better because of his genes,” Carusone said. “That could be Trump just being braggadocious, but it reinforces the idea that genetics are a legitimate qualification for leadership.”
Mnuchin’s remarks about Trump’s “unbelievable” health echo what Trump’s personal doctor said during the campaign.
“If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump’s physician of 25 years, said in a signed statement that was released to the media in late 2015.
As CNN reported at the time, Bornstein made that statement despite having no record of ever treating another president.