An explosive new report published Saturday by the Washington Post paints a portrait of Donald Trump whose "state of mind" has alarmed those close to him this week following the outraged public and congressional reaction after he fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday. In fact, one source told The Post, Trump may be suffering from a "paranoid delusion."
If the source's characterization of Trump is accurate, it raises the possibility that the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution could be invoked by Trump's cabinet, or by Congress, to remove Trump from office on the ground that he has become mentally incapable of carrying out the duties of the presidency.
"Trump's allies have been buzzing about the staff's competence as well as the president's state of mind," the Post reported. "One GOP figure close to the White House mused privately about whether Trump was 'in the grip of some kind of paranoid delusion.'"
Other sources quoted by The Post were worried about Trump's seemingly total ignorance about what the job of governing entails.
"Trump is so unsophisticated about government, and he lacks even basic knowledge about how the government functions, of what the unwritten but very important rules and traditions are," said another source described as a veteran of past administrations who is close to the Trump White House. "His attitude toward all those things is they don't matter: 'I'm going to drain the swamp!'"
The characterization of Trump in the Post article is similar to a report on the Comey firing by Politico magazine published shortly after Trump terminated Comey's job.
The earlier story depicted Trump as so enraged by the investigation of Trump's possible collusion with Russia to tamper with the 2016 presidential election that he would "sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said."
The questions about Trump's mental stability as a result of growing pressure from the Russia investigation and the backlash over Comey's firing — backlash that somehow caught Trump by surprise, according to Politico — would not be the first time that Trump's psychological condition has raised red flags.
While the Post source's suggestion that Trump suffers from a "paranoid delusion" appears alarming, Trump has long been susceptible to apparent paranoia. Even as a candidate for president last year, by the count of one watchdog organization, Trump publicly declared his belief in no less than 58 demonstrably false conspiracy theories, ranging from his long-stated conviction that President Barack Obama was not an American citizen, to his own paranoid contention that the terrorist group ISIS had tried to assassinate him.
Earlier in May of this year, former Johns Hopkins University psychology professor John Gartner wrote that Trump displayed symptoms of "malignant narcissism" and that Trump's public statements indicate that he is "psychotic."
A diagnosis of "malignant narcissism" requires a subject to exhibit four characteristics, Gartner wrote. Those would be "narcissism, paranoia, antisocial personality and sadism." According to Gartner, "Trump exhibits all four."
One member of congress, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, announced a bill this week that would create an "Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity," a congressional committee that would be charged with evaluating a president's state of mind — potentially invoking the 25th Amendment if the commission finds a president such as Trump mentally unfit to serve.
The 25th Amendment was passed in the aftermath of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and allows Congress to create a body — such as Raskin's proposed committee — which would decide on whether a president is incapacitated and unable to serve. If that determination were to be made, Congress could then vote to remove the president from office.
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