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Michael Cohen calls out Trump for alleged bone spurs in Vietnam War

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, is expected to deliver an unflattering statement about his former employer’s medical deferment, during his highly-anticipated congressional testimony on Wednesday.

Cohen, who will be publicly testifying before the House Oversight Committee, claims in prepared remarks released Wednesday morning that Trump previously tasked him to “handle the negative press” in regards to questions about his medical deferment during the Vietnam War.

Trump was not required to serve in the Vietnam War after receiving five deferments: four for attending college and one for a bone spur diagnosis. Deferments were not uncommon as the Vietnam War raged in 1968, but Trump’s lack of military service as a 22-year-old, 6 feet 2 inch athlete raised questions.

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“Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft,” Cohen alleges in his testimony. “Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery.”

“He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment,” Cohen continued.

News organizations, such as the New York Times, asked Trump for his medical records during the 2016 US presidential election. Then-candidate Trump responded by saying he received “a very strong letter on the heels” from a doctor who approved of his deferment.

Trump added that he did not remember when his alleged condition — a build-up of calcium deposits on the heel’s bone — was no longer a noticeable concern. “Over a period of time, it healed up,” Trump said to The Times in 2016.

But Trump privately implied that the notion of him deploying to Vietnam was a foolhardy thought, according to Cohen.

“You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam,” Trump said, Cohen claimed in his statement.

Cohen also quipped, in light of Trump’s ongoing summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, “I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.”

President Donald Trump and US Marines.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Trump has continued to boast about making improvements for the US military during his presidency.

However, he has butted heads with veterans from his generation and Gold Star families affected by the War on Terror.

On the campaign trail, Trump made disparaging comments about the late Republican Sen. John McCain’s military service as a naval aviator and a prisoner of war.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at the Family Leadership Summit in 2015. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump also feuded with the parents of US Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Khizr and Ghazala Khan openly criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention, to which Trump responded by suggesting their comments were written by Hillary Clinton’s “scriptwriters.”

Trump later signed a bill naming a post office after Khan and would refer to him as a “hero to our country.”

Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison relating to two separate investigations, faces questions about his credibility as a witness. He was charged by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office and pleaded guilty to lying to Congress — a development Trump and his loyalists have telegraphed ahead of his testimony.

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