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Biden’s fitness to stand trial irrelevant to presidency, says psychiatrist who declared Trump dangerous


The post Biden’s Fitness to Stand Trial Irrelevant to Presidency, Says Psychiatrist Who Declared Trump Dangerous appeared first on The Daily Signal.

President Joe Biden’s fitness to stand trial and his fitness to serve as president are not comparable standards, the forensic psychiatrist who led the movement to oust Donald Trump from the presidency via the 25th Amendment contends.

Dr. Bandy X. Lee, who edited “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” first released in 2017, said earlier this month that she did not judge Biden’s cognitive decline to be a danger to his service as a president.

Last week, several Republican lawmakers responded to her comments, with many alleging a “double standard” for judgments of Trump and Biden.

In a detailed email sent Friday to The Daily Signal, Lee responded to both GOP lawmakers’ comments and The Daily Signal’s coverage of her comments in what she called “too many misconceptions” by lawmakers and in the news story.

The investigative report that special counsel Robert Hur released on Feb. 8 looking into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents said Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen” at his home and office.

However, Hur said he would not seek charges because Biden would appear to a jury to be an “elderly man with a poor memory” and because his “diminished faculties” make it less likely he intentionally violated the law.

“Robert Hur is not a mental health professional, and he commented on capacity to stand trial, not capacity to serve,” Lee told The Daily Signal in the detailed email.

Several Republican lawmakers have made the comparison of Biden’s capacity to stand trial and his ability to do the job of president.

Among those lawmakers, Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., argued, “Either President Biden is fit to stand trial, or he is unfit to serve as president. There is no middle ground.”

Lee, who has worked for Yale, Columbia, and Harvard, responded, “On the contrary, fitness to stand trial and fitness to serve are two different standards.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, made a similar comment to Tenney, to which Lee said, “Actually, you can [compare fitness to stand trial versus fitness to serve as president], because they are two different standards.”

Lee insisted that she and other mental health professionals conducted an evaluation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 2019 report and determined Trump was not fit to be president. Mueller investigated allegations of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Lee disagreed with a statement from a previous Daily Signal story on Wednesday that “Neither Trump nor Biden were evaluated by medical professionals for mental fitness,” which was meant to convey that neither man was personally examined. She contends the review of the Mueller report counted as an actual evaluation.

“Again, there was a formal mental capacity evaluation done by a panel of the nation’s top mental health experts, for which Donald Trump failed every criterion,” Lee wrote about her colleagues’ and her review of the Mueller report.

While the Mueller report “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” several aspects of the report indicated temperament issues with Trump.

The press release that accompanied Lee’s and her colleagues’ 2017 evaluation said, “Without diagnosing, these top experts on mental health demonstrate, through a standard procedure, that the president clearly poses a danger to the nation and the world in his role as commander in chief.”

She also responded on Friday to several Republican members of Congress who said there was a “double standard” among the people who called for ousting Trump for supposed mental health reasons but who apparently have no problem with Biden.

In extended comments in her email to The Daily Signal, Lee was also dismissive of a cognitive test that Trump took in person while in office. She said this was a 10-minute screening. 

“He [Trump] passed a 10-minute cognitive screen by his personal physician who did not have proper qualifications or the training to do a fitness test,” Lee told The Daily Signal.

Lee is the co-founder of the Violence Prevention Institute and is the president of the World Mental Health Coalition, a coalition specifically created to critique Trump’s mental health and author “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Last week, Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., told The Daily Signal, “There has been a glaring double standard. … The same people who questioned President Trump’s mental stamina after he passed a cognitive test are now defending Biden’s mental acuity.”

Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., told The Daily Signal, “The only reason you’d refuse a cognitive test is if you can’t pass it.”

Lee scoffed at this presumption.

“If he [Collins] is referring to the one Donald Trump passed, there is another reason: it would be an insult, if not a grave concern, for a president to have to take that 10-minute screen (not a full test),” Lee wrote in the email.

Referring to another lawmaker’s comment, Lee wrote, “Again, Donald Trump did a 10-minute screen, which if he did not pass, he would be in a nursing home.” She also noted, “That was a 10-minute screen, on which hospitalized psychiatric patients get perfect scores.”

Lee expressed that she was not happy with how Wednesday’s Daily Signal news story came out. The story included comments from several GOP members of Congress.

“I was told that a publication by The Heritage Foundation would at least be intellectual,” she said (Heritage is the parent organization of The Daily Signal). “There were just too many misconceptions, I had to respond.”

She took exception to the story’s reference that she “defended” Biden.

“A psychiatrist does not ‘defend’ a president; she detects (or not) signs of unfitness, regardless of person,” Lee said.

She also disputed the previous Daily Signal stories that said making an assessment of either Trump or Biden without an in-person evaluation could violate the “Goldwater Rule.” Lee countered that it actually “fulfills” the rule.

The “Goldwater Rule” prevents psychologists from offering a “professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” The American Psychiatric Association adopted the rule after a group of partisan Democratic psychology professionals declared that 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was “psychologically unfit to be president.”

Lee said her previous evaluation of Trump didn’t violate the rule. “Rather, it fulfills the ethical guideline that precedes 7.3 (“the Goldwater Rule”), which is 7.1: ‘Psychiatrists are encouraged to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government.’”

Specifically, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution allows for the vice president and a majority of presidential Cabinet secretaries to determine whether a president is physically or mentally unfit to carry out the duties of the office. If the president is deemed unfit, the vice president would become acting president on a temporary basis.

Under the amendment, Congress could remove the president from office permanently with a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate. That is a higher bar than for impeachment, which requires only a simple majority in the House to vote for impeachment and a referral to the Senate for a trial and possible removal from office.

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