Tag Archives: ‘ignoring

60% of COVID-19 long-haulers say government is ‘absolutely ignoring them,’ Marketplace questionnaire finds

Susie Goulding said she feels like she’s living with a “broken brain.” 

Some days, she can’t remember her dog’s name. Other days, she can’t remember how to make a phone call from her car.

“It’s like a computer that’s processing,” said Goulding, who lives in Oakville, Ont. “It’s spinning and I’m just waiting for the information to come to my brain, but it doesn’t come.”

Goulding started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in March 2020. She was not tested during her initial illness because her symptoms didn’t match up with early testing criteria. She said her doctor has since made a working diagnosis of COVID-19 based on her ongoing symptoms. 

Today, she is just one of a growing number of Canadians who say they’re suffering from so-called long COVID, a condition where people who contract even a mild case of COVID-19 experience symptoms for weeks or months after their initial illness.

Recent research has found that one in three of those who contract COVID-19 can go on to develop persistent symptoms, with studies citing heart, lung and cognitive issues, as well as debilitating fatigue and pain. They’ve come to be known as COVID long-haulers, and based on these recent statistics, Canada could have more than 200,000 of them at this point in the pandemic.

WATCH | Woman with long COVID describes struggle accessing medical care:

Susie Goulding says she feels like she’s living with a ‘broken brain.’ She started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in March 2020 and has paid hundreds of dollars for private medical treatment because, she says, she hasn’t been able to access the care she needs in the public system. 1:00

It’s a growing population that Goulding said is struggling to access the medical care it needs to recover.   

“You’re not being protected by this umbrella of Canadian health care that we’re accustomed to,” said Goulding. “It just sort of proves the fact that they’re absolutely ignoring us.”

While extra health-care dollars have been invested in treating COVID-19 across Canada, experts say the country lags behind others when it comes to allocating resources for the treatment of those with long-COVID symptoms, specifically.

To investigate where gaps in health care for long-haulers may exist in Canada, CBC Marketplace launched a nationwide questionnaire designed in consultation with medical experts. 

Responses were gathered from over 1,000 Canadian long-haulers through an online questionnaire conducted by Marketplace from Dec. 9, 2020 to Jan. 6, 2021. It was circulated among members of the COVID Long-Haulers Support Group Canada Facebook group, among others. 

More than 60 per cent reported that they have not been able to access the care they believe they need to recover.

Symptoms experienced by respondents to our questionnaire include:

  • Cognitive issues, such as brain fog and memory loss. 

  • Lung issues, such as shortness of breath and chest pain. 

  • Pain, such as joint pain and body pain.

  • Fatigue.

Shortage of Canadian clinics treating long COVID

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is home to the Post-COVID-19 Recovery Clinic, aimed at providing specialized care and followup for people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and are now in recovery. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In the U.K., the National Health Service (NHS) England is spending at least 10 million pounds, or $ 17.3 million Cdn, to open 81 long COVID specialist clinics across the country. U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “they will bring together doctors, nurses, therapists and other NHS staff like physiotherapists.”

Meanwhile, Canada has six in-person post-COVID clinics that take on long-haulers: two in Ontario, three in the greater Vancouver area, and one in Sherbrooke, Que. These clinics are funded through hospital operating budgets, charitable donations and research dollars.

Because these clinics have limited capacity and often run as part of research studies, they only accept patients with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Many long-haulers say this has left them shut out. 

Tracey Thompson, a long-hauler who first presented with symptoms last May, also didn’t meet the provincial criteria for COVID-19 testing when she first got sick. “Because I hadn’t been out of the country. I wasn’t eligible for testing,” she said.

Since then she has spent a lot of time at home with her fingers crossed, hoping for what she calls the holy grail of treatment. 

“I wake up every day and I hope that there’s going to be some news about something like the [U.K.’s clinics] opening up in Canada,” said Thompson. “[Here], there’s no cohesive or sort of holistic care plan for people with long COVID.”

CBC Marketplace’s investigation revealed that more than 54 per cent of long-haulers who were not tested for COVID-19 with a PCR swab test said it was because testing was not available to them when they got sick. Another 34 per cent who weren’t tested said it was because they did not meet the provincial standards for testing at the time.

Back in April, assessment centre physicians told CBC News that they had been directed to use their testing capacity for priority groups like health-care workers and not members of the general public, even if they were symptomatic. 

At one point, centres were turning away between 25 and 30 per cent of people who showed up with a referral. Now, it’s too late for long-haulers who contracted COVID-19 early on in the pandemic to get tested. 

A lack of sufficient medical support to treat long COVID patients could become a problem, said Dr. Angela Cheung, Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and co-lead of the Canadian COVID-19 Prospective Cohort Study (CANCOV), which is evaluating early to one-year outcomes in patients with COVID-19.

“The hospitals are overwhelmed, and in some ways the [post-COVID] clinics are overwhelmed, too,” said Cheung. If Canada doesn’t properly look after long-haulers, “we would have a lot of people feeling not well [who] can’t go back to work.”

WATCH | Why Canada’s support for COVID-19 long-haulers is lagging: 

Canadians who experience symptoms of COVID-19 for weeks or months after first getting ill told CBC’s Marketplace and The National they are struggling to access the medical care they need. Countries such as the U.K., meanwhile, are funding specific health-care services for those known as long-haulers. 4:31

‘They don’t  believe you’ without a positive test

Over 50 per cent of long-haulers told Marketplace that one or more physicians did not believe them when they presented with symptoms, and nearly 40 per cent said their doctor told them they were suffering from anxiety or depression and not COVID-19. 

Abrar Faiyaz, a business student at Seneca College who began experiencing symptoms last March, was not tested for COVID-19 because of limited testing at the time reserved for people who had travelled out of the country. Some of his doctors have suspected he has post-viral syndrome, he said, and his symptoms are consistent with long COVID. However, he has still had to convince other doctors that he’s sick in order to get referred for medical testing despite suffering from brain fog and debilitating back pain since his initial sickness.

“I’m 22, had no prior illness, was extremely healthy and extremely fit,” said Faiyaz. “If people can’t see that you’re ill, they don’t believe you.” 

Abrar Faiyaz, photographed at left in March 2020 and pictured at right January 2021. Faiyaz said he doesn’t feel or look his age anymore. He said that, given the choice, he would rather have his legs broken five or six times than contract COVID. (Submitted by Abrar Faiyaz)

Other respondents said they had been brushed off and dismissed by their doctors, or were repeatedly denied antibody testing. One respondent told Marketplace the lack of care they’d received made them feel so helpless, they considered suicide.

To help inform physicians, the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recently published guidelines that advise doctors on diagnosing and treating patients with long COVID. The guidelines also discourage physicians from relying on a positive COVID-19 test for diagnosis or referral to specialists and long-COVID clinics. No such guidelines exist in Canada.

Dr. Jessi Dobyns, a family physician from Peterborough, Ont., believes more education and guidelines for doctors could help. 

She became sick with common symptoms of COVID-19 four days after seeing a patient who was later confirmed to have the virus. She said PPE was not in place for general practitioners at the time. She was tested twice after becoming symptomatic, but both times the test came back negative. The federal government’s online information portal about testing notes that a test’s accuracy “can vary” depending on when it was taken.

Dobyns has been experiencing symptoms of long COVID for ten months, and said she has not been able to get medical help from a post-COVID clinic.  

“If somebody had a typical COVID-like illness and they’ve developed persistent symptoms, [treat it] as COVID,” said Dobyns. “If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, that’s most likely what it is.”

Physicians and health-care providers need “clinical definitions” in order to effectively treat patients. 

“We need boxes that we can say, ‘oh, that sounds like this,'” said Dobyns. “And I don’t think we always do well … when we see something that just doesn’t make sense.” 

Paying for treatment out of pocket

For long-haulers who haven’t been accepted to a post-COVID clinic, the cost of paying for care themselves can be in the thousands of dollars. 

Dr. Mark Bayley, medical director of brain and spinal cord rehabilitation at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute of the University Health Network, provides rehabilitation such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy to post-COVID patients referred by Toronto’s University Health Network hospitals. Treatments there are covered by the province. 

Bayley said the same course of treatment privately could cost as much as $ 1,500. 

More than 45 per cent of questionnaire respondents told Marketplace they’ve spent their own money on treatment, with 31 per cent of those respondents spending over $ 1,000 on followup care not covered by private health insurance. Some spent $ 10,000 or more.

Private MRIs and CAT scans, naturopathy treatments, rehabilitation, occupational therapy and equipment for monitoring their own symptoms at home are some of the costs long-haulers told Marketplace they had incurred in an effort to treat themselves.  

WATCH | Full ‘Canada’s forgotten patients’ Marketplace episode:

Sick for months, and stuck paying thousands in medical bills. The truth about how Canada is failing Covid long-haulers. Plus, will getting rid of sulphites in wine get rid of your hangover? 22:31

Federal government isn’t tracking long COVID 

Health Canada told Marketplace that there is insufficient data on COVID long-haulers to determine how common these long-term effects are among Canadians, as well as the spectrum of complications.

As the majority of the questionnaire respondents reside in Ontario, Marketplace also contacted Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott to ask what the province is doing to support COVID long-haulers.  

In a written statement she said that Ontario is spending $ 2.5 billion more in the hospital sector during COVID, but did not address the issue of long-haulers specifically.

Cheung said she’d like to see multidisciplinary post-COVID clinics set up in all provinces and funding support to run these clinics, because Canada is “definitely lagging behind.”

For long-haulers like Dobyns, help can’t come fast enough.

“We need people who are thinking about health-care systems and policy and the economy to figure out, like, what are we going to do with this bill [and this] tsunami of disability that is coming.” 

Watch full episodes of Marketplace on CBC Gem.

At the time of publication, CBC counted six clinics that are treating long-haulers confirmed to have had COVID-19:

  • ONTARIO — The University Health Network Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital and the Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic at the London Health Science.
  • BRITISH COLUMBIA — A collaborative network of three clinics including one at the Vancouver General Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey.
  • QUEBEC — La Clinique Ambulatoire Post-COVID du CIUSSS-CHUS.

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CBC | Health News

We're ignoring Canada's alcohol problem, chief public health officer warns

Canada's chief public health officer says she's worried about the rise in heavy drinking among Canadian women.

In recent weeks, Dr. Theresa Tam has tried to sound the alarm on Canadians' problems with substance abuse, making it the focus of her 2018 report on the state of public health in Canada. (A snapshot of this country's health.)

While the report touches on the deadly opioid crisis and health concerns linked to legal recreational marijuana, Tam said alcohol abuse also deserves the nation's attention.

"We have lost sight of the fact that continued high rates of problematic alcohol consumption are leading to a wide range of harms," she writes.

A deeper dive into the numbers shows a troubling trend for Canadian women: they're dying from alcohol abuse at a faster rate than men.

Tam's report points out that between 2011 to 2017, the alcohol-attributed death rate for women increased by 26 per cent, compared with a roughly five per cent increase over the same period for men.

Girls aged 10 to 19 have higher hospitalization rates for alcohol abuse than boys the same age.

"Men still have higher rates of alcohol consumption … but women are catching up and this is really a worrying sign. There's an increase in the rate of heavy drinking among women," Tam said in an interview for CBC's The House.

Tam said researchers are still trying to figure out why the numbers are rising — but part of the reason could be that women are using alcohol to cope with stress and anxiety. 

"We need to understand the reasons why women are consuming alcohol in a way that leads to harm. So women do have different experiences with trauma, sexual abuse, bullying — those underlying factors are important when you're looking at prevention," she said.

Selling booze as equality 

While Canada might be losing sight on its drinking problem, it's hard to ignore alcohol's presence in Western culture.

From the "purple-toothed" characters on Courtney Cox's Cougartown to wine-guzzling heroines on shows like The Good Wife and Scandal, pop culture presents alcohol as a normal way for women to unwind at the end of a work day. 

Beyond traditional TV and magazine advertising, a quick scroll through Facebook and Instagram turns up ads selling wine as "Mommy juice."

A shopper's confusion over why anyone would need to buy a "wine preserver" made the punchline of a recent segment on CBC TV's Baroness Von Sketch show.

The link between alcohol consumption and a desire to reduce stress could be part of the problem, says Tam.

"I think, overall, more needs to be done to normalize alcohol in Canada. So 80 per cent of Canadians consume alcohol. Rising rates in women tells us that we ignore alcohol," she said.

Catherine Paradis, a senior researcher and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, said there's been a steady trend of alcohol makers and marketers targeting women since the 1990s.

While she said there's nothing necessarily wrong with advertisers tailoring their messaging, Paradis has a problem with ads borrowing the messaging of the women's liberation movement to sell booze.

"What I find extremely disturbing is advertising has been using the pretext of sexual equality to encourage women to drink like men," she said.

"Would it ever cross your mind to ingest the same amount of calories as your father, your brother, your spouse? Of course not. But the alcohol industry has somehow managed to make us believe that, when it comes to alcohol, that should be sort of a measure of gender equality."

The problem with trying to keep up with men at the bar, said Tam, is that women and men metabolize alcohol differently.

"Our water content is different. The body enzymes that metabolize alcohol are different in women," she said. 

Changes coming from Ottawa

The federal government was forced to wade into the binge drinking conversation earlier this year after a 14-year-old girl died after she reportedly consumed an 11.9 per cent alcohol malt liquor drink called FCKD UP on her school lunch break.

"As you know, following the tragedy in Quebec, we took action to begin work on restricting the amount of alcohol in highly-sweetened alcoholic beverages," said a spokesperson for Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor.

"We are still reviewing recommendations of the Health Committee and working on regulations we will be introducing in the near future.​"

Paradis said it's a good first step but more should be done to curb marketing.

Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada has lost sight of its problematic alcohol consumption. (Public Health Agency of Canada/Canadian Press)

"Companies are now using social media strategies to appeal specifically to young people and women and we've argued that it is necessary to place new restrictions on the marketing of these products," she said.

"We need to start to think more about alcohol. It's been trivialized way too much in past years."

Shifting consumption patterns will take political commitment, but Canada already accomplished something similar with tobacco use, said Tam.

"We managed to reduce consumption of tobacco through a suite of policies, educational measures and regulations," she said.

"That takes a considerable effort."

CBC News reached out to alcohol industry associations for comment but has not received a response.

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CBC | Health News

Hidden camera reveals trampoline parks ignoring dangerous behaviour

When eight-year-old Chelsea Garrod jumped off a platform into a foam pit at a trampoline park in Kelowna, B.C., she thought she'd land like a flying squirrel. Instead, she landed in the hospital, unable to feel her legs.

More than a year later, Chelsea is still recovering, with a fractured spine and significant nerve damage. She can walk again, but her physiotherapist says her nerve damage is permanent and her back will never be the same.

"When I hit the foam, I heard a crack and it really hurt," said Chelsea, recounting the day it happened. By evening, Chelsea couldn't feel her legs and had to be airlifted to the hospital.

"I didn't cry when it happened; just sometimes after, when I got really scared," she said.

Chelsea Garrod, right, is shown with her mother, Sylvie Gilbert, at home. The eight-year-old fractured her spine after belly-flopping into a foam pit at a trampoline park. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

Injuries like Chelsea's are not unique. Last year, news of young adults, like Landon Smith and Blake Davies, becoming paralyzed in trampoline parks in Alberta and Ontario made national headlines. And earlier this year, a 46-year-old father died at a British Columbia trampoline park in front of his two young daughters.

  • Watch Marketplace at 8 p.m. on Friday on CBC TV or online.

Since the first trampoline park in Canada opened in 2011, others have been popping up across the country — and with them comes the risk of serious injury.

Marketplace visited 12 trampoline parks across the country to see what was being done to mitigate risks to minors in this unregulated industry. Many children were witnessed breaking the parks' "rules" without employee intervention.

After her back was fractured, Chelsea Garrod had to wear this brace. (Submitted by Sylvie Gilbert)Staff at Energyplex Family Recreation Centre, for example, watched as multiple children belly-flopped into the same foam pit where Chelsea broke her back doing the same stunt. No one intervened.

At other parks, Marketplace documented flips, stunts and double-bouncing — all considered risky behaviour by health authorities. Children were observed jumping head first into foam pits, and at times, areas of the parks had no supervising staff to enforce safety rules.

At one park, a baby crawling across a tumble track collapsed after being bounced by an older child. At another, a mother held her crying toddler after he did a somersault and landed on his neck.

Injuries more severe than other sports

The trampoline park industry is not regulated in Canada, which means that while one park may have a six-foot-deep foam pit, another may only be three feet deep. The parks are left to inspect and repair their equipment themselves, and don't have to report injuries.

However, the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) is keeping track of children who present at a hospital with trampoline injuries, with 18 hospitals participating in their program.

"A lot of people don't realize how significant the injuries are," said Dr. Laura Purcell, founding president of the Canadian Paediatric Society's paediatric sport and exercise medicine committee.

Purcell has been studying trampoline injuries for more than a decade and has co-authored research papers for CHIRPP.

"When you look at the severity of injury — meaning how the injury needs to be treated — the admission rate for injuries sustained with trampolines is much higher than a lot of other sports," said Purcell.

Chelsea Garrod and her mom watch footage that shows kids doing the same MANEUVER that left Chelsea with permanent nerve damage. 1:00

A 2007 study showed trampoline-related injuries have the second-highest rate of admission to hospital out of all sports and recreation injuries in the CHIRPP database, with 12.4 per cent of injured patients having to stay overnight. It followed only alpine skiing, which saw an overnight-stay rate of 12.9 per cent.

In contrast, ice hockey saw only 3.3 per cent of injuries be serious enough for overnight admittance, and football, only 2.8 per cent.

Since the boom of trampoline parks across Canada, CHIRPP has been looking specifically at the difference between backyard-trampoline and trampoline-park injuries.

Purcell published another study this year, which revealed there is a much higher percentage of face and neck injuries arising from stunts like somersaults and flips in trampoline parks (36%) compared to backyard trampolines (13%).

"We do see injuries to the neck and spine," she said. "The concern with those is that they can lead to long-term paralysis and significant impact on quality of life down the road."

Dangerous behaviour encouraged by ads

Health Canada has been advising against somersaults on trampolines since 2005, stating that "landing on your head or neck can cause paralysis" and "somersaults are advanced skills that should only be performed in an appropriate facility under the guidance of a certified instructor."

However, at every trampoline park visited by Marketplace, children were observed doing somersaults without staff members intervening.

Dr. Laura Purcell explains why some of the risky actions captured by Marketplace could result in serious injury. 0:55

And a search of each of the 12 parks' websites and social media material show somersaults are often encouraged through promotional ads, including those geared toward children.

Many health organizations, including Health Canada, also advise that children under six should not use trampolines at all, since they don't have the motor skills and strength to jump on a trampoline.

But many parks had specific areas devoted to "toddler time," when parents were encouraged to bring young kids to jump.

Is regulation going to help?

Other authorities, like Parachute Canada — an advocacy group that seeks to prevent serious or fatal injuries through education — go further, recommending no recreational trampoline use at all.

While preventative measures implemented for other sports have been proven to reduce injuries, like helmets for bicycling and wristguards for skateboarding, Purcell says this isn't the case for trampolines.

"All the safety precautions that have been suggested for trampolines have not affected the incidents of injuries associated with those activities," she said.

Many of the 12 trampoline parks visited by Marketplace said they have signage and a posting of the rules that warn about the risks of jumping, like these printed-out instructions. (CBC)

The park where B.C. father Jay Greenwood died in January is still seeing injuries, for example, including some in the past month. A three-year-old boy fell through a trampoline onto the concrete below, and just days later, a 10-year-old girl fell from the climbing wall, breaking her arm, leg and wrist, and fracturing her face.

When Marketplace reached out to Extreme Air Park, in Richmond, B.C., the owner said the park has safety protocols and rules in place, and "it is unreasonable to assume our team can be at all places at once."

The boy was playing with the Velcro on the trampoline and "slid three feet to the floor through the Velcro he compromised," the owner said. And the 10-year-old shouldn't have clipped into the harness herself, and is "old enough to understand direct instruction given to her," he said.

The onus is often put on children to jump within their own ability, and for parents to stop their kids from doing anything dangerous, as outlined in the parks' liability waivers, which jumpers are required to sign before entering any trampoline park.

The liability waiver is a legal document by which the signee assumes the risk of the activity — even if an injury is the result of  the establishment's own negligence or poorly maintained equipment.   

Many waivers outline all the ways their facility may be unsafe, and the many ways staff could be negligent.

Personal injury lawyer Darren Williams says a child 'can't be bound to a contract,' such as the waivers signed by their parents when visiting a trampoline park. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

These documents are legally binding when an adult signs them. However, several lawyers told Marketplace they are more complicated when a parent signs on behalf of a child.

"A child can't be bound to a contract," said Darren Williams, a B.C.-based personal injury lawyer who is representing Chelsea Garrod in a lawsuit against Energyplex. "When a parent signs on behalf of the child, they can't contract away the child's rights to sue if they're injured."

Although Williams cannot specifically talk about Chelsea's case, as it is before the courts, he has dealt with many cases involving waivers.

"People are so used to seeing them nowadays that they just assume that they're effective, and that essentially scares away a large number of people from bringing rightful claims," he said.

Trampoline parks respond

Marketplace brought the results of the hidden camera survey to the trampoline parks featured. Many told us that safety is their top priority and some said they would welcome government regulation.

Some also mentioned they follow the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard for trampoline park safety, which was established in collaboration with industry stakeholders to standardize the way trampoline parks are manufactured and run.

Dawn Izzard, of the Burlington Gymnastics Club, goes undercover with Marketplace inside trampoline parks and points out areas where injuries could occur. 0:56

There are currently no inspections in Canada, and following the industry standards is voluntary.

Many parks also told Marketplace they have signage and a posting of the rules that warn about the risks.

Some parks noted Health Canada's current recommendations are from before the existence of trampoline parks in Canada and should only be read in the context of backyard trampolines.

Although Parachute Canada and Health Canada have not spoken out about trampoline parks specifically, Purcell says parents shouldn't wait for an official statement.

"Parents considering taking their children to trampoline parks should be aware of all the recommendations regarding trampoline use by children," she said, "including those organizations that recommend no use at all."

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Trump, ignoring age-old legal wisdom, may have implicated himself and burned his lawyer — on live TV

The show is called Fox & Friends. But U.S. President Donald Trump may have been a little too loose-lipped with the chummy conservative anchors interviewing him on the Fox News channel Thursday morning, when he rattled off a series of ill-advised remarks that may have legally undermined his lawyer and himself — and moved him closer to having to testify under oath for a deposition.

His words have already been used against him.

Trump’s longtime lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, is under criminal investigation after the FBI raided his home, hotel room and office this month, seizing documents, electronic devices and at least one safety deposit box. Trump suggested the probe is focused on Cohen’s business dealings. Cohen reportedly called his lawyers immediately after the Fox segment aired.

Fox News hosts appeared to try several times to interrupt Trump during his extended phone call on Thursday. The camera eventually cut away from the hosts and to this shot of the president and the White House.(Fox & Friends)

In the half-hour televised phone call, during which the president at times veered off topic and raised his voice to a pitched yell, Trump seemed to:

  • Acknowledge that he knew Cohen was representing him as a lawyer to deal with a matter involving Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who was paid $ 130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.
  • Supply ample contradictions, including a remark that bolsters the lewdest claim from the Steele dossier, strengthening the case for a deposition.
  • Weaken his argument that the material seized from Cohen should be protected under attorney-client privilege.
  • Suggest that he might meddle with the Department of Justice, which is conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russia.

There was a lot to digest.

“Practising attorneys were probably clutching their chests, imagining Trump was their client,” said Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor now teaching law at the University of St. Thomas.

Here’s a little of what Trump said, and why it could be problematic for him and Cohen down the road:

‘He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.’

Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) leaves the United States District Court Southern District of New York after a hearing related to Michael Cohen on April 16.(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“He straight-up said it,” Osler said. “He just said that Michael Cohen represented him in relation to Stormy Daniels. And that’s contrary to the narrative that’s been put out at this point.”

Cohen has always alleged that he freelanced the payment of $ 130,000 US in hush money to Daniels — without Trump’s knowledge — and that he paid the money out of his own pocket. Reporters aboard Air Force One this month asked Trump if he knew about the payments. “No,” he answered.

Osler said a prosecutor would need to prove there was some connection in conversations between Trump and Cohen regarding the Daniels payment, which some have argued might have violated campaign finance laws.

“By acknowledging that Cohen represented him, Trump goes a long way to providing that connection,” he said.

It otherwise makes no sense for Trump to have hired Cohen to deal with the Daniels dispute, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. While Trump admitting Cohen was his lawyer for the Daniels case “doesn’t necessarily mean he knew about the contract or payment, it certainly suggests that he did,”  Mariotti said.

“Why would you hire a lawyer for something and not know what the dispute was?”

‘I went to Russia for a day or so, a day or two…. He said I didn’t stay there overnight. Of course, I stayed there.’

Michael Cohen, seen on April 11, has said that he paid adult-film performer Stormy Daniels — who alleges an affair with the president — out of his own pocket. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

Trump, calling allegations made by fired FBI director James Comey “phoney,” disputed Comey’s memos stating that the president had denied to him that he stayed in a Moscow hotel overnight during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Trump made the remark to discredit Comey.

But in doing so, he may have inadvertently supported the most salacious allegation about “golden showers” involving Russian prostitutes, as detailed by a former British spy in the Steele dossier. The report also contains allegations of collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign.

“On the one hand, Trump is saying, ‘Don’t trust Comey,'” said Harry Sandick, a former Southern District of New York federal prosecutor now with the firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. “But then if he did spend the night in Moscow, doesn’t that raise other concerns about whether the Steele dossier is truthful or not?”

Trump’s contradictions on the Daniels scandal could also give her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, enough leeway to demand a deposition to clear up the varying accounts in sworn testimony.

“Another gift from the heavens,” Avenatti said on MSNBC Thursday.

Porn actor says she’s committed to making sure everyone finds out the truth.0:42

Outside a Manhattan courthouse, Avenatti made it clear how much the Trump Fox appearance pleased him.

“I thought it was exceptional for our case, and I thought it was disastrous for him. I think there’s no question it implicates him.”

‘A tiny, tiny little fraction.’

Stormy Daniels’s attorney Michael Avenatti leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York on Wednesday. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

That was Trump’s answer when asked by Fox News host Steve Doocy how much of his legal work was overseen by Cohen.

Problem is, if the amount of legal involvement Cohen has with his affairs after their decade-long relationship is so minuscule, that also undercuts Trump’s argument that Cohen’s seized documents should be protected by attorney-client privilege.

It seems federal prosecutors were also watching Fox News on Thursday and took advantage of the remarks. In a filing to the judge, they submitted that Trump’s “tiny, tiny little fraction” comment on cable television suggests that “the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents.”

“It certainly was something a lawyer would have suggested he not say,” Mariotti said.

He said he doubts it had any bearing in the end on a judge’s decision to appoint an independent “special master” to examine documents to assess what should remain confidential correspondence between Cohen and his clients, including Trump.

Jim Trusty, a former chief of the organized crime section at the Justice Department now with Ifrah Law, said Trump may have been alluding to a small fraction of his legal universe, which still might be immense.

“The problem is with this president, even his biggest fans would say he can be a little inexact.”

‘I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department … I have decided that I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what’s going on is a disgrace.​’

Former FBI director James Comey appears at an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s 20/20. Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, was released on Tuesday. (Ralph Alswang/ABC/Associated Press)

Trump said he was disappointed with the Justice Department but has decided he “won’t be involved.” But he added, “I may change my mind at some point.”

It sounded like a threat to some legal scholars, and Trump has repeatedly alluded to a desire to prosecute some of his political enemies, including Comey and failed democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Justice Department, which is meant to maintain independence and remain non-partisan, appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“Taking action against the department would likely be legally problematic,” Mariotti said. “So, it’s better for Trump to say nothing about interfering with the Justice Department at all during its ongoing investigation.”

Saying nothing seems to be the hard part for a president who has shown little restraint when it comes speaking off the cuff on live TV.

“In general, it’s not a good idea to talk publicly about an investigation that’s related to you,” Sandick said. “The usual playbook is for someone who’s a witness or a subject in an investigation not to say much, to let their lawyers do their jobs.

“You don’t create trouble for yourself when you don’t have to create trouble for yourself.”

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CBC | World News