U.S. President Donald Trump speaks via a video as White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders listens during a daily news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House January 4, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The question came just hours after it was revealed that more than a dozen lawmakers were briefed on Trump’s mental health by a psychiatrist.
By Jake Johnson / 01.04.2018
During a White House press briefing on Thursday that followed yet another week of erratic behavior by President Donald Trump—including a tweet in which the president boasted of the size of his “nuclear button”—Playboy magazine’s White House correspondent Brian Karem asked a question that is, in some form, on the minds of many: when Trump undergoes his physical next week, will his “mental acuity” be tested as well?
Karem was hardly alone in questioning White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on the president’s mental capacity. Indeed, as the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake notes, two consecutive press briefings have been interspersed with questions related to Trump’s cognitive health.
When asked whether the president has a response to those who are doubting his fitness for the office of the presidency, Sanders insisted that Trump is “an incredibly strong and good leader,” called any suggestion to the contrary “disgraceful,” and argued that “if he was unfit he probably wouldn’t be sitting” in the Oval Office.
Thursday’s questions regarding Trump’s mental fitness come less than 24 hours after Politico reported that a group of more than a dozen lawmakers “concerned” about the president’s mental health “summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior.”
Lee is the editor of a newly published book titled The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which features the opinions of 27 mental health professionals on the president’s behavior during his first months in office.
“We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress,” Lee told Politico in an interview. “Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”
Reports that Lee met with lawmakers to discuss Trump’s mental health emerged shortly after the president took to Twitter to notify North Korea that his “nuclear button” is “much bigger” and “more powerful” than Kim Jong-un’s.
In response to this tweet—which was viewed by a former White House ethics lawyer as “grounds for removal from office under the 25th Amendment”—Lee and more than 100 other mental health professionals signed a statement on Wednesday expressing alarm that Trump “is now further unraveling in ways that contribute to his belligerent nuclear threats.”
“We urge that those around him, and our elected representatives in general, take urgent steps to restrain his behavior and head off the potential nuclear catastrophe that endangers not only Korea and the United States but all of humankind,” the statement concluded.