Since President Donald Trump took office on January 20, a trend has been emerging in which news media outlets have featured articles quoting health care professionals questioning the billionaire’s mental stability in a seeming bid to delegitimize the president.
And now some Democratic politicians – and at least one Republican – are calling for Trump to be subjected to a psychiatric examination to determine whether he is fit for office. Some commentators have even suggested invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which allows for the commander-in-chief’s removal from office if the “president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
This comes after the left’s multiple failed attempts to overthrow Trump’s presidency, including the recount efforts supported by Hillary Clinton; a doomed campaign to get Trump’s electors to defect before the Electoral College voted in December; and claims that Russian “hacking” impacted the 2016 election.
The health care professionals quoted in recent weeks attempting to diagnose Trump seem to be violating the so-called Goldwater Rule, which was established by the American Psychiatric Association after similar unsupported attacks against Senator Barry Goldwater during his 1964 presidential campaign, which was widely considered a threat to the political establishment.
The APA’s Goldwater Rule forbids psychiatrists from commenting on someone’s mental status unless they first carry out an examination and the doctor is authorized by the patient to speak to the public.
On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she would back a proposal suggested by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) during a meeting with the Washington Post’s editorial board to consider legislation requiring all presidents to get medical and mental health examinations. Chaffetz clarified that he wasn’t referring to Trump’s rhetoric.
Post columnist Ruth Marcus related:
In a meeting last week with The Washington Post editorial board, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he was weighing legislation to require presidents to undergo an independent medical examination, including mental health. Chaffetz cautioned that he wasn’t “talking about some of the rhetoric that’s flying around” about Trump. Still, he said, “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.”
Right on cue, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted last week about whether Trump should get a mental health exam.
Last 24 hrs on Twitter, @realDonaldTrump went on rant about "death & destruction," "FAKE NEWS," & "evil." Should he get mental health exam?
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 4, 2017
A group calling itself “Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism” has been created, with a manifesto that includes a litany of wild claims.
Last week, U.S. News and World Report ran a story titled, “Temperament Tantrum: Some say President Donald Trump’s personality isn’t just flawed, it’s dangerous.”
The article quotes John D. Gartner, described as a “practicing psychotherapist who taught psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School,” claiming Trump is “dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president.”
Gartner’s quotes have since been picked up by numerous news media outlets in order to question Trump’s emotional health.
The Independent newspaper featured a story that also questioned Trump mental stability, titled, “’Malignant narcisissm’: Donald Trump displays classic traits of mental illness, claim psychologists.” The piece cited mental health professionals commenting on Trump’s alleged narcissism.
The article partially drew from a New York Daily News story published last week titled, “President Trump exhibits classic signs of mental illness, including ‘malignant narcissism,’ shrinks say.”
“Narcissism impairs his ability to see reality,” Dr. Julie Futrell, a clinical psychologist, told the newspaper while pointing out that she never actually treated Trump.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has no medical degree, weighed in on Trump’s health status, tweeting that the president is “obviously mentally ill.”
An American first: a president who was obviously mentally ill the moment he took office. Thanks, Comey https://t.co/FuZbCy5DxQ
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) January 24, 2017
The campaign to question Trump’s mental health may have an ultimate goal in mind.
Last Month, Will Rahn, political correspondent and managing director of politics for CBS News Digital wrote a commentary piece at CBSNews.com titled, “An obscure way to oust an American president.”
He pointed to the 25th Amendment as a way to declare a president unfit for command:
Regardless of whether Trump is suffering from some kind of mental ailment, the Constitution does provide a manual for what to do in case of presidential incapacity in the form of the 25th Amendment. In particular, a provision within Article 4 of the amendment lays out how a president can be forced to surrender his powers should he be ruled unable to fulfill his duties.
Rahn conceded the procedure, which would require action from the vice president, is highly unlikely:
There’s a lesson there for Mike Pence, should he ever take a look at Article 4 and start thinking it might be wise to ascend to the presidency a little early: failing in that effort would end his career, not to mention the careers of the secretaries who sign up to help him. That alone is a powerful incentive to avoid using the law.
So while it’s plausible that this president could be removed from office for reasons of mental illness, it’s still exceptionally unlikely he would. And, in any event, Mr. Trump would have to get a whole lot weirder than he’s been already before anyone could start seriously thinking about Article 4.
Last week, Breitbart News reported Rosa Brooks, a former Obama administration official, outlined four ways to “get rid” of Trump, including declaring him mentally unfit for command or carrying out a military coup.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
With additional research by Joshua Klein.