Donald Trump claims to be a very stable genius. How stable is he? Is he stable enough to trust him having his finger on the nuclear trigger? Or should he be removed via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment?
It is almost impossible to keep track of the numerous truly bizarre behaviors that President Trump has exhibited over the last three years. Fortunately, Helen Kennedy compiled a list of over 50 such incidents that she posted on Twitter. Click on this tweet and follow the thread for a trip that starts down memory lane and ends in The Twilight Zone.
We all remember the real horrors: Helsinki and Charlottesville, Puerto Rico, Khashoggi, caging children and betraying Kurds. The Russia thing. The Ukraine thing.
But there is such a tide of crazy crashing over us every day that we may forget many loony moments.
I made a list:
— Helen Kennedy (@HelenKennedy) January 1, 2020
If you had told me four years ago that the President of the United States would do half the things that Trump has done I would have said you're crazy. If you somehow were able to PROVE to me that the President would do half the things that Trump has done, I would have said that HE is crazy. And I wouldn't be far off the mark. Professional mental health experts have been watching Trump closely and are disturbed by what they see.
By August 2017 it was already obvious to a number of psychiatrists and mental health experts that Donald Trump had mental health issues that posed a danger to the world. By the end of 2017 Bandy Lee, Assistant Clinical Professor in Law and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, and 26 other psychiatrists and mental health experts published The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book that examined Trump's pathology and made the case that he posed a danger to us all. (See Karen Koenig's review in the New York Journal of Books for more about this book. The revised version of the book has been expanded to include essays by 10 more mental health experts.)
George Conway: Donald Trump's Pathology Makes Him Unfit For Office
George Conway (Yes, Kellyanne's husband) recently wrote a masterful in-depth analysis proving that Donald Trump's mental pathology makes him unfit for office. This article is VERY long, but it is MUST reading. I will be quoting extensive passages from it, but this column will be a poor substitute for reading the whole thing.
Conway starts his essay by noting that you don't have to be a doctor to know that there is something very seriously wrong with a football player who has been hit so hard that he can't get up, has a misshapen leg, and is grimacing in pain. You might not know exactly what bone or ligament was broken, or how to heal him, but you don't have to be an expert to know that he should be taken out of the game.
Similarly, you don't have to be a trained psychologist or psychiatrist to know there is something very wrong with Donald Trump that makes him unfit for office. Conway writes:
No president in recent memory—and likely no president ever—has prompted more discussion about his mental stability and connection with reality. Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly is said to have described him as “unhinged,” and “off the rails,” and to have called the White House “Crazytown” because of Trump’s unbalanced state. Trump’s former deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, once reportedly discussed recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, the Constitution’s provision addressing presidential disability, including mental disability.
Rosenstein denies that claim, but it is not the only such account. A senior administration official, writing anonymously in The New York Times last September, described how, “given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment”—but “no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”
Conway then notes that Trump is a compulsive liar. He lies about EVERYTHING. His lawyers had to keep Trump from testifying before Robert Mueller because they knew he would lie under oath. Conway continues
If Trump can’t tell the truth even when it counts most, with legal jeopardy on the line and lawyers there to help prepare him, is he able to apprehend the truth at all?
Behavior like this is unusual, a point that journalists across the political spectrum have made. “This is not normal,” Megan McArdle wrote in late August. “And I don’t mean that as in, ‘Trump is violating the shibboleths of the Washington establishment.’ I mean that as in, ‘This is not normal for a functioning adult.’” James Fallows observed, also in August, that Trump is having “episodes of what would be called outright lunacy, if they occurred in any other setting,” and that if he “were in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be under way to remove him from that role.”
Trump’s erratic behavior has long been the subject of political criticism, late-night-television jokes, and even speculation about whether it’s part of some incomprehensible, multidimensional strategic game. But it’s relevant to whether he’s fit for the office he holds. Simply put, Trump’s ingrained and extreme behavioral characteristics make it impossible for him to carry out the duties of the presidency in the way the Constitution requires. To see why first requires a look at what the Constitution demands of a president, and then an examination of how Trump’s behavioral characteristics preclude his ability to fulfill those demands.
Conway isn't a mental health expert, but he is one of this country's top lawyers and he knows what type of person the Founding Fathers wanted to be president when they wrote the Constitution.
Though the Constitution’s drafters could hardly have foreseen how the system would evolve, they certainly knew the kind of person they wanted it to produce. “The process of election affords a moral certainty,” Hamilton wrote, “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,” might suffice for someone to be elected to the governorship of a state, but not the presidency. Election would “require other talents, and a different kind of merit,” to gain “the esteem and confidence of the whole Union,” or enough of it to win the presidency. As a result, there would be “a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.” This was the Framers’ goal in designing the system that would make “the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided.”
Hamilton’s use of the word trust in The Federalist Papers to describe the presidency was no accident. The Framers intended that the president “be like a fiduciary, who must pursue the public interest in good faith republican fashion rather than pursuing his self-interest, and who must diligently and steadily execute Congress’s commands,” as a recent Harvard Law Review article puts it. . . .
. . . In a nutshell, while carrying out his official duties, a president has to put the country, not himself, first; he must faithfully follow and enforce the law; and he must act with the utmost care in doing all that.
But can trump do all that? Does his personality allow him to? Answering those questions doesn’t require mental-health expertise, nor does it really require a diagnosis. You can make the argument for Trump’s unfitness without assessing his mental health: Like James Fallows, for example, you could just ask whether Trump would have been allowed to retain any other job in light of his bizarre conduct.
Conway next turns to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for guidance in determining whether Trump is mentally healthy enough to meet the minimum expectations of the Founders. The DSM "contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders". It is the Bible of mental health professionals (although unlike the Bible, it is periodically revised to incorporate new information in the mental health field.) The DSM describes observable behaviors and characteristics that can be used to evaluate whether someone has a mental illness. As Conway notes:
The DSM-5 describes its conception of pathological narcissism this way: “The essential feature of narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.” The manual sets out nine diagnostic criteria that are indicative of the disorder, but only five of the nine need be present for a diagnosis of NPD to be made. [Emphasis added] Here are the nine:
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration.
5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends)
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
These criteria are accompanied by explanatory notes that seem relevant here: “Vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with narcissistic personality disorder very sensitive to ‘injury’ from criticism or defeat.” And “criticism may haunt these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow and empty. They may react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.” The manual warns, moreover, that “interpersonal relations are typically impaired because of problems derived from entitlement, the need for admiration, and the relative disregard for the sensitivities of others.” And, the DSM-5 adds, “though overweening ambition and confidence may lead to high achievement, performance may be disrupted because of intolerance of criticism or defeat.”
Conway then listed at least one incident for each of the nine criteria proving that that criteria had been met. Trump hit the jackpot on the seventh criteria, with Conway giving 10 examples proving his point. Here are three of them.
The notorious lawyer and fixer Roy Cohn, who once counseled Trump, said that “Donald pisses ice water,” and indeed, examples of Trump’s utter lack of normal human empathy abound. Trump himself has told the story of a charity ball—an “incredible ball”—he once held at Mar-a-Lago for the Red Cross. “So what happens is, this guy falls off right on his face, hits his head, and I thought he died … His wife is screaming—she’s sitting right next to him, and she’s screaming.” By his own account, Trump’s concern wasn’t the poor man’s well-being or his wife’s. It was the bloody mess on his expensive floor. “You know, beautiful marble floor, didn’t look like it. It changed color. Became very red … I said, ‘Oh, my God, that’s disgusting,’ and I turned away. I couldn’t, you know, he was right in front of me and I turned away.” Trump describes himself as saying, after the injured man was hauled away on a makeshift stretcher, “‘Get that blood cleaned up! It’s disgusting!’ The next day, I forgot to call [the man] to say is he okay … It’s just not my thing.” . . .
. . . in February 2018, when Trump met with survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and their loved ones, his communications aide actually gave him a note card that made clear that “the president needed to be reminded to show compassion and understanding to traumatized survivors,” as The New York Times put it. The empathy cheat sheet contained a reminder to say such things as “I hear you.” One aide to President Obama told the Times that had she and her colleagues given their boss such a reminder card, “he would have looked at us like we were crazy people.”
Most recently, in July of this year, in a stunning scene captured on video, Trump met in the Oval Office with the human-rights activist Nadia Murad, a Yazidi Iraqi who had been captured, raped, and tortured by the Islamic State, and had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for speaking out about the plight of the Yazidis and other victims of genocide and religious persecution. Her voice breaking, she implored the president of the United States to help her people return safely to Iraq. Trump could barely look her in the eye. She told him that ISIS had murdered her mother and six brothers. Trump, apparently not paying much attention, asked, “Where are they now?” “They killed them,” she said once again. “They are in the mass grave in Sinjar, and I’m still fighting just to live in safety.” Trump, who has publicly said that he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, seemed interested in the conversation only at the end, when he asked Murad about why she won the prize.
Even though Conway listed 10 examples showing Trump's lack of empathy, he missed, in my opinion, the most striking example of all. This is from the December 19, 2000 issue of the New York Daily News. The date is important because it is well before he became President and well before, according to Trump, the Fake News media was out to get him.
Even when it comes to a sick baby in his family, Donald Trump is all business. The megabuilder and his siblings Robert and Maryanne terminated their nephew's family medical coverage a week after he challenged the will of their father, Fred Trump. "This was so shocking, so disappointing and so vindictive," said niece Lisa Trump, whose son, William, was born 18 months ago at Mount Sinai Medical Center with a rare neurological disorder that produces violent seizures, brain damage and medical bills topping $300,000. The Trump family feud has come to light in recent days as the dispute over Fred Trump's estate is being played out in Queens Surrogate Court. The patriarch left between $100 million and $300 million, according to different family estimates. A separate case over the denial of medical coverage that Fred Trump freely provided to his family for decades was filed in Nassau Supreme Court. Both lawsuits were filed by Fred Trump 3rd and Mary Trump, the children of Donald's late brother, Fred Jr. They offer a rare window into one of New York's most prominent families, a world where alliances and rivalries are magnified by power, money and the tough-nosed tactics of Donald Trump. "When [Fred 3rd] sued us, we said, 'Why should we give him medical coverage?
'" Donald said in an interview with the Daily News last week. Asked whether he thought cutting their coverage could appear cold-hearted, given the baby's medical condition, Donald made no apologies. "I can't help that," he said. "It's cold when someone sues my father. Had he come to see me, things could very possibly have been much different for them.
The New York Times confirmed this story in January 2016 when Donald Trump admitted to them in a phone interview, "I was angry because they sued".
Conway concludes his discussion of Trump's narcissim before turning to another personality disorder that Trump has exhibited: sociopathy.
What kind of human being, let alone politician, would engage in such unempathetic, self-centered behavior while memorializing such horrible tragedies? Only the most narcissistic person imaginable—or a person whose narcissism would be difficult to imagine if we hadn’t seen it ourselves. The evidence of Trump’s narcissism is overwhelming—indeed, it would be a gargantuan task to try to marshal all of it, especially as it mounts each and every day.
Yet pathological narcissism is not the only personality disorder that Trump’s behavior clearly indicates. A second disorder also frequently ascribed to Trump by professionals is sociopathy—what the DSM-5 calls antisocial personality disorder. As described by Lance Dodes, a former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, “sociopathy is among the most severe mental disturbances.” Central to sociopathy is a complete lack of empathy—along with “an absence of guilt.” Sociopaths engage in “intentional manipulation, and controlling or even sadistically harming others for personal power or gratification. People with sociopathic traits have a flaw in the basic nature of human beings … They are lacking an essential part of being human.” For its part, the DSM-5 states that the “essential feature of antisocial personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.”
The question of whether Trump can serve as a national fiduciary turns more on his narcissistic tendencies than his sociopathic ones, but Trump’s sociopathic characteristics sufficiently intertwine with his narcissistic ones that they deserve mention here. These include, to quote the DSM-5, “deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others.”
Conway next transitioned into a discussion of how Trump's poor mental health would disqualify him from the Presidency in the eyes of the Founders and why Congress had the obligation to impeach and remove a manifestly unfit President from office.
But even that doesn’t exhaust all the mental-health issues possibly indicated by Trump’s behavior. His “mental state,” according to Justin A. Frank, a former clinical professor of psychiatry and physician who wrote a book about Trump’s psychology, “include[s] so many psychic afflictions” that a “working knowledge of psychiatric disorders is essential to understanding Trump.” Indeed, as Gartner puts it: “There are a lot of things wrong with him—and, together, they are a scary witch’s brew.”
This is a lot to digest. It would take entire books to catalog all of Trump’s behavioral abnormalities and try to explain them—some of which have already been written. But when you line up what the Framers expected of a president with all that we know about Donald Trump, his unfitness becomes obvious. The question is whether he can possibly act as a public fiduciary for the nation’s highest public trust. . . . Given that Trump displays the extreme behavioral characteristics of a pathological narcissist, a sociopath, or a malignant narcissist—take your pick—it’s clear that he can’t. . . .
Conway concluded by arguing that the House had a duty to impeach Donald Trump and the Senate had a duty to remove him in part because his psychological impairments would compel him to repeatedly put his personal interests ahead of the country's interests.
. . . if a Senate trial comes to pass, that issue [of whether Trump would violate his fiduciary responsibility of putting the country's interests ahead of his] would become central as well to the decision to remove the president from office. That’s when Trump’s behavioral and psychological characteristics should—must—come into play. From the evidence, it appears that he simply can’t stop himself from putting his own interests above the nation’s. Any serious impeachment proceedings should consider not only the evidence and the substance of all impeachable offenses, but also the psychological factors that may be relevant to the motivations underlying those offenses. Congress should make extensive use of experts—psychologists and psychiatrists. Is Trump so narcissistic that he can’t help but use his office for his own personal ends? Is he so sociopathic that he can’t be trusted to follow, let alone faithfully execute, the law?
Donald Trump's Letter About Impeachment To Nancy Pelosi
You can see Donald Trump's mental instability on display in his letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi attacking his impeachment. It is chock full of lies, distortions, half-truths, projection, and self-pity. (The New York Time has an annotated version of that fact checks his letter here.) Here are a few passages that show just how far Donald Trump and reality have diverged. I have added emphasis as well as a note to refer you to my debunking of Trump's claim that he has been tougher on the Russians than President Obama was.
This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.
The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!
By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy. You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme — yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America's founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build. . . .
Everyone, you included, knows what is really happening. Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat. You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it! You are unwilling and unable to accept the verdict issued at the ballot box during the great Election of 2016. So you have spent three straight years attempting to overturn the will of the American people and nullify their votes. You view democracy as your enemy! . . .
After three years of unfair and unwarranted investigations, 45 million dollars spent, 18 angry Democrat prosecutors, the entire force of the FBI, headed by leadership now proven to be totally incompetent and corrupt, you have found NOTHING! Few people in high position could have endured or passed this test. You do not know, nor do you care, the great damage and hurt you have inflicted upon wonderful and loving members of my family. You conducted a fake investigation upon the democratically elected President of the United States, and you are doing it yet again. . . .
You are the ones interfering in America's elections. You are the ones subverting America's Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain. . . .
I have been far tougher on Russia than President Obama ever even thought to be. [NOTE: This claim is highly misleading. Read this for a thorough debunking.]
Any member of Congress who votes in support of impeachment — against every shred of truth, fact, evidence, and legal principle — is showing how deeply they revile the voters and how truly they detest America's Constitutional order. Our Founders feared the tribalization of partisan politics, and you are bringing their worst fears to life.
Worse still, I have been deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process from the beginning of this impeachment scam right up until the present. I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses, like the so-called whistleblower who started this entire hoax with a false report of the phone call that bears no relationship to the actual phone call that was made. Once I presented the transcribed call, which surprised and shocked the fraudsters (they never thought that such evidence would be presented), the so-called whistleblower, and the second whistleblower, disappeared because they got caught, their report was a fraud, and they were no longer going to be made available to us.
In other words, once the phone call was made public, your whole plot blew up, but that didn't stop you from continuing.
More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.
Mental Health Experts Analyze Trump's Letter To Nancy Pelosi
It should be obvious to anyone who reads the letter that the President is unhinged. At least that is my opinion. But what do mental health experts say? Chauncey Devega interviewed six mental health experts who had read Trump's letter. Here are excerpts of what three of them had to say Read DeVega's article for the rest.
Dr. David Reiss, psychiatrist, expert in mental fitness evaluations
Whoever actually wrote the letter, it accurately reflects Trump's immaturity that has been obvious in public as long as he has been a public figure: insisting that his needs be met in a child-like manner; having very poor problem-solving ability; having an inability to take responsibility for anything and projecting his own negative attributes onto others; an inability to look at consequences of his statements or actions. Basically, acting as a frustrated or emotionally hurt toddler would react, looking for a parent to protect him and "make the bad people go away."
Dr. John Gartner, co-founder of the Duty to Warn PAC and co-editor of "Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump."
When you read excerpts of the Trump letter to Pelosi it doesn't do justice to how unhinged, paranoid and manic it is in its entirety.
Dr. Justin Frank, former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, and author of “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.”
. . . the letter is a treasure trove for psychiatric residents who want to study the psychotic mind. Trump’s paradoxical sleight of hand makes him think he can hide in plain sight. But he can’t anymore. This is why he accuses Pelosi of hating democracy: It is he who hates a system that promotes the idea that no one is above the law.
Bandy Lee was not surprised that Donald Trump did something as reckless as order the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, an act that nearly brought us to war with Iran. Lee said:
“This is exactly the kind of dangerous event we foresaw as Donald Trump’s response to the impeachment proceedings, just as his pulling troops from northern Syria was a direct response to the announcement of an impeachment inquiry,” Lee told Salon. “This was why more than 800 mental health professionals petitioned Congress to consult with us, since, without intervention, this kind of crisis was a matter of time, not just a possibility.”
Lee also recommended that Nancy Pelosi order Trump undergo a 72-hour hold for a mental health evaluation. While I agree that no one is more deserving of a mental health evaluation than Donald Trump, and while the fate of the world rests on Donald Trump's mental health, Lee's request for an involuntary examination is unrealistic and will not happen. There is simply no enforcement mechanism that can coerce ANY president, much less a president rich enough to hire his own personal security guards, to undergo an evaluation against his wishes.
The sad fact is, no matter how unhinged Donald Trump becomes he will remain in charge of the nuclear codes so long as he has Republican protectors who are willing to defend him at the expense of the country. Thankfully, we seem to have avoided going to an all-out war with Iran. . . for now. Hopefully we will not go to war. But if we do go to war you can bet that any questions about the necessity for war will be drowned out with chants from Trump's supporters of "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!"
Those who REALLY want to support our troops need to forcefully make two points before we go to war.
- The best way to support our troops is to keep them out of unnecessary wars.
- The second best way to support our troops is to remove Donald Trump from office. Our troops are willing to give their lives for the country. They deserve better than a Commander-in-Chief who is a sociopath with severe narcissitc personality disorder.