Dr. Bandy X. Lee, the Yale professor and clinical psychiatrist who reportedly briefed members of Congress last month about President Donald Trump’s supposed mental instability, backed away from those claims on Monday.
Appearing on Midday Live with Dr. Drew and Mike Catherwood on TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, Dr. Lee was forced to admit that other presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, also had psychological profiles that would be “concerning” to her. She then allowed that she was not talking about “mental illness” when it came to President Trump.
Dr. Drew noted that it would be impossible for anyone to last through the presidency based on the standard Dr. Lee seemed to be applying, and presented a thought experiment to her:
Dr. Drew: Let me describe a person in a public office. This man is middle-aged. He comes from wealth. He’s done very erratic business ventures. He speaks tangentially. He roams the streets at night and beats people up in the office — he had an office in law enforcement at one point. Then he had an office where he was buying battleships. In a higher office, he could not sit down, was walking constantly, was very irritable and irascible and extremely impulsive. Should that guy be in office?
Dr. Lee: Well, I mean, that would be a very, very concerning person.
Dr. Drew: How about this one — let me give you another one. This guy had a long history of depression. And there’s a story of him being so, so profoundly depressed that one day he was walking down the street, and his son, who was pulling a red wagon — an by the way, his doctor had him on mercury, and who knows that might have done to his mental status — and the wagon flipped over, and the child dropped out of the wagon, and in his fugue depression, continued to walk for another half mile down the street — is that somebody who should be in office?
Dr. Lee: I wouldn’t speak to whether the person should be in office. It does look like the person would need an evaluation.
Dr. Drew: Yeah, so the first one was Theodore Roosevelt. The second one was Abraham Lincoln. And so that’s my fear — that if we start creating these things they’re going to be applied in ways that have unintended effects. That’s my fear.
Dr. Lee: Exactly, exactly. So we’re really not talking about mental illness here. Or what the person has. That is really a private affair. What is of concern is whether or not the person has the capacity to serve. And his function, his or her function, is what is of public concern.
Lee is part of a group called “The National Coalition of Concerned Mental Health Experts,” KABC notes, whose members are committed to the view that “Trump’s mental state presents a clear and present danger to our nation and individual well-being.”
Their activism would seem to violate the “Goldwater Rule” of the American Psychiatric Association, “which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated.”
Dr. Lee briefed “over a dozen” members of Congress about Trump’s mental health on Dec. 5 and 6, according to Politico, all of whom were Democrats, except for one unnamed Republican Senator. She reportedly warned that Trump could cause the “extinction of the human species” and that an urgent intervention would be necessary.
[Dr. Lee’s] professional warning to Capitol Hill: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”
Lee also warned, “We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”
Lee, editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” which includes testimonials from 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts assessing the president’s level of “dangerousness,” said that she was surprised by the interest in her findings during her two days in Washington. “One senator said that it was the meeting he most looked forward to in 11 years,” Lee recalled. “Their level of concern about the president’s dangerousness was surprisingly high.”
At the time, Dr. Lee’s claims were widely reported in the mainstream media. CNN’s Jake Tapper featured Dr. Lee’s claims on The Lead with Jake Tapper, for example, interviewing Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who told Tapper that members of Congress had been warned in their briefing about “increasingly delusional and paranoid behavior” by the president. He mentioned the prospect of removing President Trump from office under the 25th Amendment.
Now, however, Dr. Lee’s answer is that President Trump may not be suffering from mental illness at all.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.