What Will Become of the Trump Presidency?
I’ve lived during the administrations of thirteen U.S. Presidents and nothing has come close to that of the 45th president, Donald Trump.
Trump’s campaign, transition and four months in office have been marked by almost daily outrageous behavior that have all been sufficient to bring any previous president’s term to an end, yet Trump perseveres.
Part of his perseverance has come because both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republican Party. In other administrations Congress would have not turned a blind eye to some of Trump’s behavior, but finally there seems to be sufficient misconduct and ineptitude to bring an end to Trump and Company.
Some of the examples of egregious action have been;
A failure to make public his income tax.
Failure to place his business interests in a blind trust.
Blatant nepotism by bringing his son-in-law into the administration, giving him a high security clearance and placing him in charge of multiple areas of administration.
Firing James Comey, the FBI director, at first saying it was because he wasn’t doing his job right, but later admitting that it was because the Trump campaign and even Trump himself were the objects of an FBI investigation of whether there was collusion of the campaign with Russian intelligence in the form of computer hacking and leaks to the media of items found in the hacks. He justified the firing because he thought the investigation was preventing him from accomplishing his agenda, and the investigation was a "witch hunt".
Placing outspoken critics of numerous departments within the administration in charge of the departments they have wanted destroyed or weakened.
Inviting top level Russian officials to the White House and then sharing highly classified intelligence with them placing foreign government operatives in danger.
Attempting to coerce the director of the FBI to stop an investigation of General Michael Flynn’s connections with Russia and Turkey.
Placing Michael Flynn in charge of Homeland Security after being warned by President Obama and Loretta Lynch that Flynn was a problem and under investigation.
Failing to act promptly to relieve Flynn of duty when it was made known that Flynn had had secret meetings with and conversations with Russians that he did not reveal on questioning during Congressional confirmation hearings.
Failing to inform Vice President Pence of Flynn’s problems once they became known.
Tweeting that President Obama had had Trump tower wire-tapped.
Tweeting that everything the mainstream media said in contradiction to the Trump campaigns official story was “fake news”.
Warning the country that when he became elected there would be questions about the legitimacy of the victory by the “Fake News Media”.
Smearing Federal Judges who stayed several executive orders regarding restricting immigration because while they were ostensibly about national security they were deemed actually discriminatory against the Muslim religion.
There have been so many scandals that it is hard to keep up. I’m sure that some have been omitted.
How might Trump be removed from office?
There are actually safeguards against political vendetta that make impeachment of the President difficult. Taking gifts from a foreign power – the so-called emoluments clause – is one route. Receiving domestic gifts and profiting from domestic operations do not count.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution states that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors."
Some explanation of the word Misdemeanors is in order. This word did not mean, as it does today, a class of crimes separate from a felony. Instead it described especially bad behavior. That phrase comes straight from English common law, and was familiar to those who wrote the constitution.
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the constitution provides for the removal of a president who is judged to be “mentally unfit”. To avoid a situation where a president was alive but unfit – a situation not accounted for in the constitution – “the Twenty-fifth Amendment was added to the Constitution in February, 1967. Under Section 4, a President can be removed if he is judged to be “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The assessment can be made either by the Vice-President and a majority of the Cabinet secretaries or by a congressionally appointed body, such as a panel of medical experts.
If the President objects—a theoretical crisis that scholars call “contested removal”—Congress has three weeks to debate and decide the issue. A two-thirds majority in each chamber is required to remove the President. There is no appeal.” The definition of what conditions might be responsible for leaving the President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” was left intentionally vague.
Is there the political will to remove Trump at this time?
In an article in the New Yorker, Paul Taylor, head of Niskanen Institute, a libertarian think tank ventured “ “My guess is that there’s only between fifty and a hundred Republican members of the House that are truly enthusiastic about Donald Trump as President,” he said. “The balance sees him as somewhere between a deep and dangerous embarrassment and a threat to the Constitution.”
The impetus to this level of disapproval of the President lies in his low approval rating, forty percent – the lowest ever recorded at this point in a presidency – and the fact that Trump’s low approval rating has drug the approval rating level of the Republican Party down seven points to forty percent.
Asked if he had ever seen approval this low, Taylor said, ““No, nobody has, but we’ve never lived in a Third World banana republic. I don’t mean that gratuitously. I mean the reality is he is governing as if he is the President of a Third World country: power is held by family and incompetent loyalists whose main calling card is the fact that Donald Trump can trust them, not whether they have any expertise.”
Because of Trump’s personality and his imposing 6’3” frame and heft, he has become increasingly insulated from unpleasant news by White House staffers who are afraid of him. There is no little boy to tell the emperor that he has no clothes.
“There is no one around him who has the ability to restrain any of his impulses, on any issue ever, for any reason,” Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican consultant, said, adding, “Where is the ‘What the fuck’ chorus?”
This insulation makes it unlikely that Trump will change course or that a majority of cabinet members will step forward to say the President is mentally unfit. It will take a called Congressional Committee and three weeks of debate.
When the Twenty-Fifth Amendment was written the context was the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The question of how the country would have coped had the president survived in a permanent coma. Three weeks of debate would have gone uncontested. Three weeks of debate in the present situation, with the President maneuvering, sending out constant Tweet Storms, would be extremely trying for Congress and the country.
What conditions might the President have that would warrant removal?
Psychiatrists and psychologists are prohibited by an ethical code called “The Goldwater Rule” from venturing diagnoses on individuals who they have not personally examined, so comments about the President’s status are usually worded in the hypothetical, “A person with similar behavior…” Nonetheless, a number of mental health professionals have commented out of concern for the individual who may be suffering from mental deterioration.
Of concern is the fact that Trump’s father, Fred, developed Alzheimer’s disease in his eightys, and some of Trump’s behavior is consistent with early dementia. Also, comparison of Trump’s speech patterns ten years ago with those today reveal a deterioration in his ability to express himself, and his ability to connect thoughts. As a French member of the media put it, he seems to pull ideas out of “thematic clouds” with no connection between thoughts. There are other cause of dementia other than Alzheimer's Disease.
One person ventured the possibility that he might be suffering from a disease that has affected monarchs and powerful people in the past: neurosyphilis. Neurosyphilis has been called the Great Imitator. The spirochete that causes syphilis may affect the nervous system in a number of ways including, but not limited to;
One does not have to posit the presence of some rare or unusual medical condition, though. A study at Duke University found that the medical records and biographies from Washington to Nixon found that almost half had some form of mental illness during their lives, and those ranged from depression, to excessive anxiety, to substance abuse.
Much of Trump’s life-long behavior is related to the fact that he fulfills all nine criteria for an individual with Narcissistic Personality.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder DSM-5 301.81 (F60.81)
“ NPD frequently coexists with other psychiatric disorders. NPD is a relatively recent diagnostic category. Its origins stem from a great effort between psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists to recognize a cluster of predominantly difficult patients who could not be classified as psychotic, not typically neurotic and overall not responsive to conventional psycho therapeutic treatment options (Gildersleeve, 2012).”
Patients with NPD don’t come to the doctor for their underlying condition, but for other complaints like depression or anxiety. Narcissists are resistant to therapy because they see nothing wrong with the way they see the world; a world in which their wants and needs are paramount and supersede those of others, and because they are very sensitive to criticism of any kind.
NPD is not a criterion for removal from office, but actions committed as a result of Trump’s personality, and inability to react to criticism in a healthy way, may be what brings the nation to a crisis.