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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

In a new interview published Tuesday by Slate, Dr. Brandi Lee, a psychiatrist who put together a book of essays on President Donald Trump’s mental health, discussed the fact that two White House officials separately called her to discuss their concerns about the president.

“[They] called me, two separate phone calls, stating essentially the same thing: that they were scared of President Trump’s behavior and felt he was mentally unraveling,” she said. “Once I was assured that they did not feel themselves in imminent danger, I told them I could not take any more information, but rather, needed to refer them to the emergency room.”

She also made clear that it wasn’t as a policy matter that they thought Trump was dangerous — though many could make that case. These officials, she said, were fearful because of their personal interactions with the president. They reached out to Lee because of the book, which she has prominently promoted, according to the interview.

The book, which has been criticized by some in the professional psychiatric community, does not attempt to diagnose Trump. As Lee explains, this would require a sit-down evaluation with him personally. However, she argues that psychiatrists can assess the kind of dangers he poses without diagnosing him and without running afoul of any professional ethics guidelines.

“So this book warns about danger,” she told Slate. “Danger is more about the situation, not so much about the person. In other words, the same person in a different situation may not be dangerous. It also does not need all the information: You just need enough information to raise alarms, and you can act on the dangerousness that you see.”

She also argued that the situation has deteriorated since the book was published.

“We knew enough to predict that in the office of the presidency, under the pressures of this office, that he would get worse,” she said. “And he’s actually rapidly getting worse.”

Her advice to the White House staffers to take their concerns to an emergency room may be the right thing to do from a medical professional’s standpoint, but constitutionally, it makes little sense. A president cannot simply be committed to a psychiatric ward, even if that’s what a doctor recommends. He remains president and thus in charge of the Secret Service that protects him, and the agents protecting him are unlikely to simply take orders from a doctor.

There is one remedy for a president who is mentally unfit to serve: the 25th Amendment. That requires the Cabinet and the vice president to act.

Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.

 

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has been claiming that COVID-19 has been mostly defeated in the U.S. — which is laughable in light of how much infection rates have been surging, especially in Sun Belt states. But according to Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, Team Trump has found a new coronavirus talking point: claiming that Americans can learn to live with the pandemic and the ever-climbing death count.

According to Abutaleb and Dawsey, the "goal" of Trump's White House and campaign allies "is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year, and the economy will continue to improve. White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House's thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations."

A Trump Administration senior official, quoted anonymously, told the Post that Americans will "live with the virus being a threat." And a former Trump official, according to the Post, said of Trump's allies, "They're of the belief that people will get over it, or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on — and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day."



Figures from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore show that the coronavirus pandemic continues to be quite deadly — especially in the United States. As of Monday morning, July 6, Hopkins was reporting a worldwide COVID-19 death count of more than 534,800 — and almost 130,000 of those deaths were in the U.S.

Biden's campaign has been asserting that the former vice president has a much better track record than Trump when it comes to pandemics. Democratic strategist and Biden campaign adviser Ariana Berengaut told the Post, "From really January on, Vice President Biden has been laser focused on the rising risk to the American people presented by this pandemic. You can almost imagine them side by side — Trump's leadership and Biden's leadership…. Trump has no plan for tomorrow, no plan for a week from now; so, there is absolutely no plan for the fall, and that's what encapsulates the whole arc of that contrast."

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, told the Post that Trump's coronavirus response has been and continues to be an abysmal failure.

Garin asserted, "Trump is increasingly defined in voters' minds by his failing response to the coronavirus crisis, and virtually every action and position he's taken have been wildly out of sync with where the public is at on what should be done. Biden now has a remarkable opportunity to contrast himself with this failure of leadership that a large majority of voters see so clearly."