Trump Campaign Embraces Conspiracy Theory About Hillary Clinton’s Cough

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/DARRON CUMMINGS
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/DARRON CUMMINGS

In a radio interview today, Donald Trump’s controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said that there “have been some questions” about Hillary Clinton’s health, following a question from the host about what he called Clinton’s “persistent and deep cough.” The comments, which dovetail with Trump’s insulting Clinton’s “stamina,” are coded language borrowed wholesale out of the online conspiracy playbook.

Lewandowski’s comments about Clinton’s caught occur at about the 6:47 mark:

If Lewandowski has questions about Clinton’s health, then they are probably coming from right-wing websites, who are obsessed with Clinton coughing, seemingly tracking each and every “ahem”.

Just recently, the Weekly Standard posted a video just of Clinton coughing. “What About Hillary’s Coughing Fits?” asks Town hall. She’s looking “sick, unenergetic,” says Rush Limbaugh. She had “another coughing fit,” says Breitbart. It’s also a favorite topic of Matt Drudge, purveyor of the conservative aggregation site the Drudge Report (which leans Trump).

By validating the cough conspiracy, Lewandowski is pointing people down a rabbit hole of right-wing conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health — sites which outright speculate what Lewandowski and Trump dance around: that Clinton, who would be 69 on election day, is physically unfit for the presidency. Trump, who often boasts about his own stamina, would be 70.

Lewandowski’s comments come on the heels of Trump’s renewed attacks on Hillary’s “strength and stamina” in his victory speech on Tuesday — a line Trump keeps coming back to. Although he’s usually careful to say that he’s not speculating about Clinton’s health, according to Trump she is “not strong enough,” she’s “low-energy,” she “doesn’t have the stamina.

In the interview, Lewandowski says he’s “not a doctor,” but he adds that it’s customary for politicians to release their health records, and notes that his boss has released his — a glowing, bizarre review by Harold Bornstein of New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, which, while light on details, said Trump has had “no significant medical problems in the past 39 years” and would be “the healthiest individual elected to the presidency.”

“Doctors don’t usually say that kind of thing,” Jeffrey Singer, a practicing general surgeon, told The Daily Beast.

Clinton, however, already released her health records last year, at which time she was the first candidate to do so. Her publicly-released report described her, at the time, as a healthy 67-year-old with hypothyroidism and seasonal allergies who takes blood thinners.

According to her physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, chair of internal medicine at the Mount Kisco Medical Group, “She is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States.”