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Top psychiatrists reveal how Trump’s mental incapacity was exposed by Mueller

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On Tuesday, former FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress that he would not characterize the FBI probe into the Trump campaign as “spying.”

Attorney General William Barr stirred up controversy when he used the fraught term to describe the agency’s investigation, sparked by information that Trump associates were compromised by foreign powers.

President Donald Trump has long maintained that he’s the victim of various conspiracies to undermine the administration. And he’s often said so, causing alarm that his followers might resort to violence.

Cesar A. Sayoc Jr. sent bomb threats to media outlets and public figures perceived to be Trump’s enemies. The President’s paranoia, evident in non-stop Twitter blasts and aired at rallies, has caused mental health professionals to question his fitness for office.

Raw Story spoke with Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee about what prompted her — and other mental health specialists — to speak out about the president’s psychological problems, despite the so-called Goldwater rule that prohibits psychiatrists to diagnose public figures.

Lee is a renowned expert on violence and forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine. She has been a consultant to the World Health Organization since 2002 and is author of the authoritative textbook, “Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Causes, Consequences, and Cures.” She has done numerous forensic reports for criminal and civil cases, as well as on institutional analyses, most notably of New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex, which helped to initiate reforms.

She is also president of the World Mental Health Coalition and editor of the New York Times bestseller, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” She and several co-authors have submitted a mental health analysis of the Mueller report to the people via the press (Huffington Post covered it) and to Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The report (currently posted here) will be highlighted and hosted by the Boston Globe later this week for wider dissemination.

Raw Story: You did a “report on the Special counsel’s report,” which has a serious title but then a provocative subtitle: “If One is Too Incompetent to Commit a Crime, despite Trying Hard, is One Competent to be President?” How did you come to do this report, and what does it cover?

Lee: The special counsel’s report was replete with information for a mental health interpretation. Seldom do we have such voluminous information on a person’s behavior, verified at the level of sworn testimony. Hence, my colleagues and I saw this as a part of our ongoing, primary professional responsibility to protect society and to warn against potential harm to public health, as our ethics and the law require. The report is an attempt to continue educating the public.

The special counsel’s report could not be more informative about mental capacity, which is what the report addresses. Mental capacity is the ability to make sound, rational, reality-based decisions free of impulsivity, recklessness, paranoia, and false beliefs.

Since it is about function, not diagnosis, it has less to do with what specific illnesses are affecting someone. Rather, it has to do with whether one possesses the ability to do one’s job. A person can have a severe mental illness, for example, but be receiving proper treatment and function perfectly well—the presence of mental illness really says nothing about job performance. On the other hand, someone may not have a mental illness but still be incompetent and lacking in the basic capacities to do a job.

For a functional exam, a personal interview is not as important as observations by the person’s coworkers and colleagues of one’s actual performance, and this is why the special counsel’s report is so valuable. It is full of detailed and relevant information through the direct testimony of multiple allies and opponents, which allows us to make an appraisal with a level of confidence that far exceeds anything we can hope for in our ordinary practice.

Raw Story: Who wrote the report?

Lee: We are all authors of the public-service book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which came out of what we saw as a medical need, and was one of our first efforts to try to fulfill our societal responsibility. The fact that the book predicted much of the course of the current presidency and has received high acclaim among our peers and the public should give us credibility.

Writers of the report included myself; Dr. Edwin Fisher, clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Dr. Leonard Glass, psychiatrist, associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, and senior attending at McLean Hospital; Dr. James Merikangas, forensic neuropsychiatrist, clinical professor at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and research consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health; and Dr. James Gilligan, forensic psychiatrist, adjunct professor at New York University School of Law, and consultant to the Violence Prevention Alliance of the World Health Organization. All are of the highest caliber, if not at the very top of their fields.

Raw Story: What does the report say?

Lee: Our report is quite damning. What the special counsel’s report revealed, through consistent and abundant data, was a pervasive and profound pattern of lack of capacity.

This was demonstrated by: lack of basic comprehension (or the ability to take in information and advice without undue influence from false beliefs or emotional need); faulty information processing (or the ability to appreciate and make flexible use of information and advice without false representation); lack of sound decision making (or the ability to consider consequences based on rational, reality-based, and reliable thinking without interference from impulsivity, false beliefs, or fluctuating consistency); and behavior that places oneself or others in danger (such as inciting one’s followers to commit acts of violence and boasting of one’s own repeated violence). These are crucial failures in the basic components of mental capacity test, which in his position constitute a medical emergency that requires a response.

Raw Story: Is the Goldwater rule relevant here?

Lee: There are many misinterpretations of the Goldwater rule, and it is important that we make clear: the Goldwater rule is a call to action, for psychiatrists to fulfill their primary responsibility to society by participating in activities that improve the community and better public health.

Our obligation is not to a public figure but to society, and the rule states that, when asked about a public figure, we educate the public in general terms while refraining from diagnosis (or the equivalent). We adhere to the Goldwater rule by refraining from any diagnosis and, more importantly, uphold its principle by acting for the benefit of society and by doing what we can to protect its health and wellbeing.

Raw Story: What can health professionals do?

Lee: We will continue to use our skills as expert witnesses to educate the public so that it can lean on its representatives to act. They are the ultimate authorities now, and we are doing our ethical and legal duty to report danger. As for now, given the serious concerns we and others have raised, we have recommended that the president agree to undergo a formal evaluation by an independent, nongovernmental panel of experts. Neither the president nor his associates have documented a valid mental health evaluation. With the preponderance of evidence and the extreme dangers implied in presidential incapacity, it is critical that he clarify this issue for the good of the country.

We at least have to make a reasonable attempt to obtain a personal interview. We have recommended that he agree to one within three weeks. Since this is a functional, not diagnostic, assessment, an interview is not as central or even necessarily informative as observations of performance by colleagues and associates. Therefore, in the event that he refuses, we believe that we will still have sufficient evidence to come to a conclusion that the president lacks the fundamental mental capacity to discharge the duties of his office. It may become necessary that we move ahead with that conclusion.

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Why Mike Pompeo smirked when asked if North Korea executed negotiators

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“Suffer me that I may speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.”
The Book of Job, 21:3

No wonder Mike Pompeo awkwardly laughed or, as it was described by some observers, “smirked,” when asked about the reports of the execution of four of the people with whom Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo had been negotiating a few shorts months ago. Their roles might have been reversed.

The smirk made its appearance when Mr. Pompeo was being interviewed on a Sunday news show, and was asked for his reaction to reports that life had not gone well for four of the people he had gotten to know during the two sessions North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump had conducted over the preceding 12 months.

The first session had been a phenomenal success and the second, although cut short, did not extinguish the flame of love that warmed Mr. Trumps’ heart whenever he thought of Mr. Kim.

After the first meeting in Singapore in June 2018, Mr. Trump said at a news conference that he and Mr. Kim had “developed a very special bond. People are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy… I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past.” Describing Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump said he was “a very talented man.”

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 and making reference to the historic meeting, Mr. Trump said in the manner of a child explaining the child’s affection for a person of whom the child’s parents disapprove: “He likes me, I like him. We get along. He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters. When I showed one of the letters—just one—to [Japanese] Prime Minister Abe, he said: ‘This is actually a groundbreaking letter.’”

Prior to the February 2019 meeting in Singapore, Mr. Trump said of his relationship with Mr. Kim: “It’s a very interesting thing to say, but I’ve developed a very, very good relationship. We’ll see what that means. But he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.”

Notwithstanding Mr. Trump’s ardor, the February 2019 summit was cut short by Mr. Trump because he and Mr. Kim could not come to an agreement on the United States lifting economic sanctions and on North Korea cutting back its nuclear arsenal. Mr. Trump explained that “I’d much rather do it [a deal] right than do it fast.”

Mr. Pompeo, the secretary of state who accompanied Mr. Trump on the trip, commented on the early termination of the summit, saying, “We are certainly closer today [to an agreement] than we were 36 hours ago, and we were closer then, than we were a month or two before that.”

Success in negotiations with North Korea is a bit like beauty—it is in the eye of the beholder. What unconfirmed reports say happened in North Korea following the second meeting suggests that Mr. Kim was not quite as pleased with its results as Mr. Pompeo had been. If reports are accurate, Mr. Kim attributed the failure of the talks to four of his representatives and to make sure such an embarrassing failure would not happen again, the negotiators were lined up in front of a firing squad and executed.

During an interview on an ABC News program, Mr. Pompeo was asked about the reported execution and in response, he simply smiled or, as some described it, smirked, while declining to add anything to the reports but saying, “It does appear that the next time we have serious conversations, my counterpart will be someone else.” Here is why Mr. Pompeo smirked.

He is mildly amused by the fact that those negotiators were working for a man whose retributive actions towards his negotiators was so violent. Mr. Pompeo knows that those negotiators work for the same kind of manipulative, corrupt, and unpredictable tyrant as he. Mr. Pompeo smirked because he knows that it was only luck of the draw that he works for Mr. Trump, who lacks the ability, if not the wish, to have those who displease him shot. If he could, he would. He can’t. Mr. Trump’s remedies for dealing with those who displease him is to utter the famous two-word phrase: “You’re fired.”

Mr. Pompeo smirked because he knows how much those who were shot would have preferred to be part of the corrupt Trump White House team rather than the corrupt North Korean entourage, and he knows how lucky he is to be working for his nut job instead of the other one.

There is in truth, little to smirk about when the person who is smirking works for Trump instead of Kim. Both men are beneath contempt.

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Trump says he’ll give Americans the ‘best healthcare ever’ — but only if Republicans win in 2020

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President Donald Trump appears to be holding a healthcare plan hostage unless Americans vote for Republicans in 2020.

In a Fox News interview Sunday with Steve Hilton, Trump said he’s developing a plan that will be far better than the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). But that bill will never become law in the next two years because he wants Republicans to be elected first.

He began by saying that the 80 million Americans who have health care through their employer are “happy” and Democrats want to take it away. As a fact-check, the “Medicare for All” plan would give free health care to people instead of their employer paying for their health insurance.

“What I want to do, Obamacare is a disaster,” Trump said. “I got rid of the individual mandate, which was the worst part of Obamacare. Frankly, except for the one gentleman who decided after campaigning for eight years to repeal and replace at 2:00 A.M., he walked out on the on the floor and went thumbs, we would have healthcare repealed and replaced, but I’m doing it a different way.”

As another fact-check, the bill Republicans put up was a repeal without a replacement. It’s unclear if McCain voted against it for that reason, but many Republicans suggest it was the major problem with the GOP proposal.

“We get rid of the individual mandate as part of the tax cuts and that’s most we are now coming up with a much better plan than Obamacare if we take the House back, keep the Senate, keep the presidency, they will have phenomenal healthcare at a fraction of the cost,” Trump pledged.

If Trump was interested in actually fixing health care, he could work with Democrats to develop a law that both parties could pass. Instead, he’s hoping to take back both chambers of Congress so he can pass the bill he wants without bipartisan agreement.

Watch the interview with Trump below:

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Conference for local officials devolves into fist-fight — and one councilman in the hospital

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Councilman Leonard Mendoza

A conference for local-government officials began with cooler heads, but it devolved into an outright brawl.

The Cerritos Community News and The Los Angeles Times reported the conference battle Sunday at the Indian Wells resort. Several attendees began throwing punches and it resulted in at least one person being knocked unconscious, witnesses reported.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the fight broke out at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa around 12:30 a.m. where seven people were involved in “an altercation and physical battery.” One person was hospitalized.

None of the people involved “were cooperative,” Deputy Mike Vasquez told The Times, noting that there were no arrests.

It’s unclear who started the fight, but it involved members of the Commerce City Council and other officials, a written statement from Mayor John Soria said.

“It was a hectic scene,” one witness said.

The Times reported that a photo was circulating among local officials showing Councilman Leonard Mendoza on the ground with blood at his feet. Another man is seen checking Mendoza’s pulse.

(Screen capture taken from Cerritos Community News)

Mayor Soria said that he learned Mendoza and colleague Ivan Altamirano were talking about something when it “became elevated.” Mayor Soria “went to the area to defuse any potential conflict,” and that’s when he saw Mendoza on the ground. Altamirano was nearby “with a facial injury.”

Altamirano was then attacked “from behind by two individuals” according to Soria.

“I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults,” Soria said. “Once additional information is available I intend to call on my council colleagues to take appropriate action regarding any individuals that represent the City of Commerce who were involved in the incident.”

Read the full report from the Cerritos Community News.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts