Congresswoman Wants Trump to Undergo Psych Exam

By Paul Gaita 08/23/17

Rep. Zoe Lofgren questioned whether President Trump is showing signs of "early stage dementia."

What's beneath the surface?

A resolution has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would "urge" President Donald Trump to undergo a physical and mental health examination in order to determine if he is capable of leading the United States as Commander in Chief.

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) has alleged that recent behavior by Trump—including his impromptu comments about the protest in Charlottesville, Virginia involving "alt-right" and white supremacist factions that resulted in a fatality—suggests that the president may be suffering from mental and/or emotional impairment.

If that were the case, Lofgren's resolution would invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, a constitutional provision that grants the vice president and Cabinet members the right to remove the president from office if he were no longer able to fulfill his duties due to death, resignation or issues via written declaration "that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." Vice President Mike Pence would then assume the duties of the president.

The language of the resolution, introduced to the House on August 18, alleges that Trump "has exhibited an alarming pattern of behavior and speech causing concern that a mental disorder may have rendered him unfit and unable to fulfill his constitutional duties"—and "urges" Pence and the Cabinet to "quickly secure the services of medical and psychiatric professionals" to assess the president's health and ability to "[discharge] his Constitutional duties."

Lofgren, who has been a consistent critic of Trump's presidency, is "not a psychiatrist or a psychologist," as she told the Mercury News in an interview. She believes that the resolution is unlikely to pass in the House, which is controlled by Republicans.

But Lofgren also stated that she is hopeful that her resolution will "stimulate a conversation" about President Trump, whom she hopes would submit to an evaluation if "he cares about the country." Trump issued a physical health evaluation from his doctor, Harold N. Bornstein, during his campaign for the presidency in 2015 that declared him to be in "excellent physical health." Critics, however, opined that the letter may have been excessive in its effusive assessment of the then 69-year-old candidate.

Lofgren's resolution is the latest instance in which the President's ability to carry out his duties has been questioned. After Trump issued what was perceived by critics as a personal attack against MSNBC television host Mika Brzezinski in July 2017, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) issued a bill co-signed by 25 House Democrats that sought to assemble a congressional commission that could declare the president unfit for the office based on the language of the 25th Amendment. The Huffington Post also detailed similar editorial comments in publications like Time that evoked the 25th Amendment as a supposed means of removing Trump from office.

But as David S. Cohen noted in a Rolling Stone article, the 25th Amendment requires the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet (eight members) to vote for the president's removal. If Trump pushed back against the decision, Pence and the Cabinet would then have to vote again, while the House and Senate would also cast votes to dismiss the president.

So in order to oust Trump via the 25th Amendment, the vice president, eight members of the Cabinet, 95 members of the House and 19 members of the Senate would all have to cast affirmative votes—a scenario that, according to Cohen, would most likely "never happen."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.