Democrats Plan Capitol Hill Event to Scrutinize Trump's Mental Health

Alicia Ault

June 07, 2019

A Democratic congressman is considering convening a town hall–like event sometime this summer so Congress can discuss Donald J. Trump's mental fitness to serve as president.

Kentucky Democrat John Yarmuth has been attempting to bring Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee, MD, MDiv, and several colleagues to Capitol Hill.

The purpose of the convocation would be to enable the group of mental health experts to present its analysis of the president's mental status as it relates to his fitness for office.

Lee told Medscape Medical News that they would also show video highlights of a March 2019 gathering in Washington, DC, where experts from a variety of fields concluded that Trump is mentally unfit to service as president. The group would then answer questions from Congress.

However, Lee said she would not agree to participate unless both Democrats and Republicans attend.

"We're not partisan. If we give too much of an impression that we are allying ourselves with Democrats, then I would rather not do this than do it," she said.

Lee is the lead author of the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, an assessment of the president's mental health written by 37 psychiatrists and other experts in the field. The book was published in 2017.

This same group of clinicians, which includes psychiatrists and other experts, recently released a new analysis of Trump's mental health that is based on findings from the Mueller report.

"We believe that the preponderance of evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that this President is incapable of making sound, rational, reality-based decisions free of impulsivity, recklessness, paranoid and other demonstrably false beliefs, with most notably an absorption in self-interest that precludes the consideration of national interest," they write.

An Ethical Obligation

They are calling on other mental health professionals to endorse these findings by signing a petition on their website, www.dangerouscase.org.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has not wavered from its position that its members should abide by the Goldwater Rule, which was created in 1973. It asserts that APA members should not give professional opinions about the mental state of individuals whom they have not personally and thoroughly evaluated.

The American Psychoanalytic Association notes that the Goldwater Rule only applies to APA members, but it has also urged caution in speaking about the mental health of public figures.

Lee said she and her colleagues "are presenting our professional opinion, which is an equivalent of a diagnosis, and is admissible in court as evidence."

The opinion is that "the president is lacking in mental capacity to discharge the duties of office," Lee said.

She and her colleagues "feel ethically obligated" to present their opinion, Lee said.

A diagnosis could help with a prognosis or help determine future functional level, she said, but that's not paramount, she noted.

"We're mainly concerned about the current mental functioning, because it's such an emergency," said Lee.

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