Right after President Donald Trump was given a clean bill of physical and mental health by Navy Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson at a White House press conference on Tuesday and on the heels of a rebuke by the APA, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) abruptly canceled a town meeting on Trump’s mental health. Raskin’s office and an invited speaker claimed without providing evidence the meeting was the target of threats of violence.
Dr. Bandy X. Lee is scheduled to speak in Berkeley, California, Wednesday evening. (Typo in promo image incorrectly says Thursday)
The town meeting, which was set to feature two people leading the charge to have Trump forcibly removed from office due to alleged mental instability, Yale professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee and Harvard professor Dr. James Gilligan, was never formally announced, however a venue–an unnamed senior center–had reportedly been selected.
The Daily Beast, which reported on the cancellation, included a quote from Raskin communications director Lauren Doney that indicated Raskin was trying to move on from the issue, saying he wanted to focus on tax policy.
According to Bandy X. Lee, an associate professor at Yale who was scheduled to speak at the event, Raskin informed her just 24 hours beforehand that it was off, because going forward would have posed “significant safety risks” to attendees.
“Sorry about tomorrow night—we’ve been getting so many threats,” Raskin said, according to Lee, the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a controversial collection of essays arguing that Trump’s affinity for violence represents a danger to the public, and a leading member of the National Coalition of Concerned Mental-Health Experts (full disclosure: the group’s members include Claire Silverman, a psychologist and this (Daily Beast) reporter’s mother) that’s raised public questions about Trump’s fitness for office.
…“Whenever my boss talks about the 25th Amendment, there will be an uptick in comments on social media, or phone calls, or emails, that contain either explicit threats or generally violent and hateful language,” Lauren Doney, Raskin’s communications director, told The Daily Beast, while confirming that Thursday’s event had been canceled.
Doney, who cited the need for a more comprehensive security plan, stressed that the event had not been finalized or publicly announced when it was called off Wednesday, and also said that Raskin’s desire to focus on tax policy also played a role in the cancellation.
Lee also told the Yale Daily News that the meeting was canceled due to threats.
Lee made national headlines in January after she briefed congressmen on Trump’s mental state, arguing that the president is a danger to society. Last Wednesday, Lee met with around 45 Democrats at the Washington, D.C. home of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, marking her second such gathering with lawmakers. Since the news broke of the meeting, Lee told the News, she has received death threats at a level that makes her fear “mob violence.” According to Lee, the offices of DeLauro and U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD were flooded with threats, leading to the cancellation of a scheduled town hall with Raskin.”
The movement to remove Trump from office for alleged and undiagnosed mental instability that involves several dozen Democratic Congressmen and Senators in alliance with psychiatrists led by Lee has been denounced by the American Psychiatric Association as “armchair psychiatry”.
Three standout sentences from the APA statement:
Armchair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.
…A proper psychiatric evaluation requires more than a review of television appearances, tweets, and public comments.
…Using psychiatry for political or self-aggrandizing purposes is stigmatizing for our patients and negatively impacts our profession.”
Yale University is also distancing itself from Lee, reported the Yale Daily News.
In a public statement, the Executive Committee of the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine reaffirmed the school’s commitment to refrain from issuing statements about the mental and emotional state of public officials. The statement further emphasized that Lee’s statements were not representative of the department, School of Medicine or the University.
“The Department affirms the importance of the ethical standard of conducting an examination of an individual and obtaining proper authorization before publicly stating a professional opinion about that individual,” the statement read.”
Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson spoke about the unscheduled cognitive exam Trump asked he be given as part of his physical last Friday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland/
Neurological exam: examination of the cranial nerves, cerebellar function, deep tendon reflexes, motor function, and sensory system were all normal.
A cognitive screening exam using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment was normal, with a score of 30 over 30.
…Q Thank you. Two questions for you. Number one: There have been some questions as part of your exam — I’m wondering if you talked to the President about this — about the President’s mental fitness. He has pushed back on that calling —
DR. JACKSON: Right.
Q — himself a “stable genius”. Can you assess the President’s mental fitness for office?
DR. JACKSON: Absolutely. So, many of you may have picked up on the fact that we did do a cognitive assessment as part of the exam. And initially, you know, I had no intention of including the cognitive assessment in this exam because, to be honest with you, per all the guidelines that are out there, it’s not indicated at this time.
A lot of the guidelines would suggest that you do cognitive screening questions, and that, if you have a positive or concerning answer in the screening questions, that then you engage with a cognitive screening tool.
So I had no intentions whatsoever doing that, like I said, because I didn’t feel it was clinically indicated. And part of the reason I didn’t think it was clinically indicated is because I’ve spent almost every day in the President’s presence since January 20 — or, you know, last year, when he got into office. And I’ve seen him every day. I’ll see him one, two, sometimes three times a day because of the location of my office. We have conversations about many things, most don’t revolve around medical issues at all. But I’ve gotten to know him pretty well and I had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or his neurological functions.
So I was not going to do a cognitive exam, I had no intention of doing one. The reason that we did the cognitive assessment is, plain and simple, because the President asked me to do it. He came to me and he said, is there something we can do — a test, or some type of screen that we can do — to assess my cognitive ability?
And so I looked into it, and once again — and my initial question was that I didn’t think it was indicated and I didn’t think we should do it. After looking at some of the guidelines, there are a few guidelines out there that lean in the direction of potentially doing it. You know, the Medicare guidelines and some of the NIH, National Institute of Aging — they’ve indicated that it might be a good thing to start doing for most patients in the future.
With that in mind, I went through and I looked at a variety of the cognitive assessments that were available. Most of them were very simple, very short. And I think that’s the goal, actually, for primary care providers, in doing this, is to keep it simple. Keep it short.
We picked one of the ones that was a little bit more involved, it was longer. It was the more difficult one of all of them. It took significantly longer to complete, but the President did exceedingly well on it. So that was not driven at all by any clinical concerns I have; it was driven by the President’s wishes and he did well on it.”…