WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump’s “reckless” response to the investigation into his campaign as detailed by special counsel Robert Mueller shows that he is unable to rationally process risk, making him a danger to the entire nation, according to a new analysis by a group of psychiatrists.
“The singular reaction is perhaps indicative of the extent to which the president is, as with his contrary reaction to Russia’s attack on the integrity and validity of our process of electing a president, preoccupied with himself to the point where he does not even consider the good of the nation,” states the report, which is being released on Friday.
The report bears an unwieldy title: “Mental Health Analysis of the Special Counsel’s Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” The authors’ chosen subtitle, though, goes more to the heart of their thesis: “If One is Too Incompetent to Commit a Crime, Despite Trying Hard, Is One Competent to be President?”
Yale University professor Bandy Lee, the lead author of the analysis, said she and her colleagues believe Trump’s behavior shows that his mental condition is deteriorating rapidly. They are requesting that he undergo a full evaluation within the next three weeks by a “non-governmental, independent and non-partisan” panel that would include psychiatrists, neurologists and internists.
“If he believes he is fit, he should agree to submit to one,” Lee said, adding that if he refuses, her group will piece together a “profile” of Trump’s mental condition much the way the CIA prepares psychological profiles of foreign leaders who are deemed to be threats to the United States. “We believe it is equally valuable to do one when an internal leader is a danger to the nation.”
The White House press office did not respond to HuffPost’s queries about the new report other than to argue generally that doctors should not offer diagnoses without performing clinical evaluations. The press office also suggested contacting Gina Loudon for her views.
(Loudon, who calls herself “Dr. Gina,” is not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but rather a conservative radio and television personality with a doctorate in “human and organization systems” from an online college. She is, however, a vocal Trump supporter whose book the president promoted in a tweet last year.)
Lee has been arguing for some time that Trump’s public remarks and written statements on Twitter show that he is unfit for the presidency. She said the 448-page Mueller report offers even more evidence, meticulously collected over a period of two years by a team of experienced investigators.
“There couldn’t be higher quality data,” she said, adding that while Mueller was looking at Trump’s words and deeds from a criminal justice standpoint, her team studied his findings from a mental health perspective.
James Merikangas, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University and another author of the report, said it does not make a diagnosis, as the White House is implying.
“We don’t claim to make a psychiatric or neurological diagnosis, although we’d like to,” he said, adding that evidence collected by Mueller shows that Trump seemed unable to anticipate the bad consequences that would have followed had he managed to fire the special counsel.
“Looking one or two steps down the road requires a certain mental capacity,” Merikangas said.
He noted that the president’s father, Fred Trump, had Alzheimer’s in his final years and that the president, who will turn 73 in June, is at the age where the neurological disorder commonly starts to manifest itself. Merikangas pointed out that President Ronald Reagan, who also developed Alzheimer’s, was known to be exhibiting some symptoms in his second term.
“Reagan was at least surrounded by competent, patriotic people,” said Merikangas, adding that Trump has methodically driven off competent advisers with sound judgment in favor of those who cater to his whims.
The professor said that as a Navy officer in 1962, he witnessed the last above-ground nuclear test conducted by the United States and that has shaped his concerns about Trump. “The president still has the authority to start a nuclear war by himself,” Merikangas said. “That’s one possible consequence. ... It’s a very, very dangerous situation.”
The five authors of the new report are among the 37 mental health professionals who contributed to the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” which came out in 2017 and was updated earlier this year. All five are professors of psychiatry at medical schools around the country. Besides Lee at Yale and Merikangas at GW, Edwin Fisher is at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Leonard Glass is at Harvard Medical School, and James Gilligan is at New York University.