The incessant tweets. Slurred speech. And then there’s his, like, questionable vocabulary. Questions surrounding President Donald Trump’s mental state have reached a fever pitch in recent weeks, recently inflamed by the release of author Michael Wolff’s new tell-all book, “Fire and Fury.” The book, which promises readers an inside account of the Trump presidency, details the good, bad but mostly the ugly that goes down in the White House and paints Trump as a man-baby who’s just about lost his marbles.
It’s since been hard to quell talks of the president’s mental fitness for the job, a discussion his administration has been trying its best to steer clear of. Trump inserted himself into the “ridiculous reports” this past Saturday when he took to Twitter to declare just how much of a “stable genius” he is.
“Now that [the] Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook, and screaming mental stability and intelligence,” he wrote in a series of tweets.
“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability [and] intelligence, and being like, really smart,” Trump added, gloating about him being a “VERY successful businessman” turned “top T.V. star” who managed to win the presidency on his first try. “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”
Many on Capitol Hill (including some Republicans) beg to differ, however, so much so that psychiatric professionals were called in to evaluate the president’s mental fitness without benefit of an exam. A recent report by Politico stated that more than a dozen legislators sat down with a Yale University professor for two days earlier last month to discuss Trump’s ability to serve in office. All who attended were Democrats, except for one Republican senator, according to the report.
Dr. Bandy X. Lee reportedly warned the group that the pressures of the presidency would eventually cause Trump to “unravel.” A recent tweet about North Korea where he bragged that his “nuclear launch button” is “much bigger [and] more powerful” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s also prompted questions about Trump’s mental state.
“We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress,” Lee, who edited “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” told Politico. “Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”
Concerns over Trump’s mental health have since evoked debates over the Goldwater Rule, a professional association code of ethics that bars mental health professionals from giving their opinions on the mental state of someone to the media without permission or without having conducted an in-person evaluation. The American Psychiatric Association enacted the rule in 1973 in the wake of a successful lawsuit brought by Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater against Fact magazine for labeling him unfit for office during his 1964 presidential run.
The magazine, in an article backed by more than 1,000 psychiatrists who called the GOP candidate unfit, ascribed to Goldwater severe personality flaws, “including paranoia, a grandiose manner and a Godlike self–image,” The New York Times reported. Nearly 10 years later, the Goldwater Rule took effect, making it tricky for those with the most knowledge on the issue from speaking on the mental stability of those in the public eye.
With his physical exam scheduled for Feb. 12, many are left wondering if Trump’s doctor’s visit will include a psychiatric evaluation. The answer to that question is a definitive “no,” according to deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley. The results of the physical will be made public, however.
The president’s advisers have been loyal in defending him against the recent claims made about his mental acuity. Rather than address questions about whether the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star is fit to serve as president, they unleash a tongue-lashing on those who even dare to ask. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been quite vocal in her defense of the president.
“It’s absolutely outrageous to make these types of accusations and it’s simply untrue, and it is sad people are going, and making these desperate attempts to attack the president,” Sanders said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” last week. “What I think is really mentally unstable is people that don’t see the positive impact that this president is having on the country.”
Ex-Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller echoed Sanders’ sentiments, adding there were partisan motivations behind the attacks on Trump’s mental health.
“The political left wants this to become a debate about some made-up attacks against the president rather than the president’s successes and the success of the country,” Miller told The Washington Post. “This is a pretty pathetic move.”
Fellow Republicans going to bat for Trump has done little to silence the whispers, however, as concerns over the president’s mental stability have been festering for quite some time. In fact, last summer, House Democrats introduced new legislation to force the president to undergo a psych evaluation. The bill, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), specifically entreats Vice President Mike Pence and members of Trump’s cabinet to “quickly secure the services of medical and psychiatric professionals” to “assist in their deliberations” to invoke the 25th Amendment, according to The Hill.
Outlining the rules for removing a sitting president, the 25th Amendment requires both the vice president and a majority of cabinet members to jointly concur that a president isn’t fit to serve. Two-thirds of the House and Senate would also have to vote to force the president’s resignation in the event he declines to renounce his position to the vice president.
Lofgren’s resolution was bolstered this week after Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) unveiled the “Stable Genius Act” that would require presidential candidates to submit to a medical exam and make the results public before the general election. The Washington Examiner reported that the measure would mandate both political parties to file a Federal Election Commission report proving their nominee “has undergone medical examination by the medical office under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Navy.”
“Before voting for the highest office in the land, Americans have a right to know whether an individual has the physical and mental fitness to serve as President of the U.S.,” Boyle said in a statement Tuesday, Jan. 9.
“While it is necessary to take the current President’s concerning behavior seriously, and I support legislation to address these ongoing concerns, I believe we must also be proactive and do all we can to ensure a situation like this does not arise again,” he added.