The Senate could indefinitely postpone an impeachment trial against Donald Trump if he is determined to be mentally incompetent, according to a former White House ethics lawyer.
Minnesota Law School professor and former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter explained in a tweet that a statute requiring that an accused person be mentally competent to stand trial could be used to postpone the upcoming Senate trial, according to Law and Crime.
U.S. Code 4241 regarding determination of mental competency to stand trial says that any time after a trial begins but before sentencing, “the defendant or the attorney for the Government may file a motion for a hearing to determine the mental competency of the defendant.”
The court would be required to grant the motion “if there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense,” it continues.
Painter argued that the House managers of the impeachment trial, which haven’t been revealed yet, should take advantage of the statute.
“The statute says that the attorney for the government (the attorney prosecuting the case) can file a motion to determine the mental competency of the defendant,” Painter said.
Trump’s mental status has been called into question frequently over the past few months by various people. In October, one psychiatrist who hadn’t treated Trump said that it appears that the president is deteriorating mentally. Last year, a group of mental health experts released a joint statement saying that Trump’s mental capacity could make him a threat to the safety of the nation. White House counsel Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, has made similar assertions.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 9, 2020
USA Today echoed these sentiments in an op-ed last October. Most recently, as The Inquisitr previously reported, a mental health professional called for Nancy Pelosi to demand an “involuntary” psychiatric evaluation of Trump, arguing that Trump has behaved in a way that indicates he is mentally deteriorating.
The idea of halting the Senate trial against Trump stems from the idea that the Senate doesn’t intend to hold a fair trial after GOP members like Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell have indicated that they won’t interview witnesses and have already made a determination about Trump’s innocence.
Painter later jokingly added that anyone could find evidence of Trump’s mental incapacity by looking through the last three years of his Twitter account.