It's been a pretty wild few days in politics, with a reported combination of pneumonia and dehydration having laid Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pretty low for at least a few days, and setting off a full-fledged news cycle fixated on her health, whether she should disclose her full medical records, and whether her Republican rival Donald Trump should, too. Trump suggested last week that he would indeed release his own, but now his campaign manager seems not so keen ― so, will Trump really release his medical records?
After weeks of Trump campaign surrogates like Rudy Giuliani, and indeed Trump himself stoking speculation and insinuation about the state of Clinton's health, needless to say it would look awfully bad now if she released more of her records and Trump didn't release any. He's already been far less transparent than she has regarding their tax returns ― Trump claims he won't release them because he's under audit, though he hasn't provided any actual proof of that audit to the public. In an interview with CNN's Alyson Camerota, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway confirmed that the campaign would not release any such proof, testily replying, "Are you calling him a liar?"
And, in another interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Conway suggested that she didn't really approve of all the medical scrutiny, at least directed at her candidate. Moments after suggestively mentioning Clinton's pneumonia diagnosis, Conway bemoaned the lack of privacy.
Suffice to say, if there's any reluctance on the part of Trump or his campaign to actually release this information ― more than the widely ridiculed doctor's letter the Trump campaign released months ago, which contained virtually no actual medical information and was riddled with bizarre hyperbole, at least ― then this is a pretty perilous situation for them.
Back on Sept. 6, Trump told ABC News' David Muir that he'd "love to give specifics" about his health, with "full reports," and responded agreeably when Muir asked if he'd release his records before Clinton did. At the time, it's possible this seemed like an easy calculation for Trump, even if he didn't really want to release the records in any meaningful way, he didn't have to worry about following through with it ― because Clinton was making no clear move toward releasing anything more than the doctor's note she put out months ago, which meant his feet would never be held to the fire.
But now, the circumstances have changed, because Clinton's illness means she has to release something more, regardless of what Trump does. Which means if Trump doesn't follow suit, just like with the tax returns, it's going to look very conspicuous, and undermine some of his core lines of attacking against Clinton. At this point, Trump is widely expected to discuss his health with TV host Dr. Oz on Thursday, but if that's all he does, and if Clinton releases something more comprehensive, this could still be a costly turn of events for his candidacy.