Crazy in Gov: Why Won’t the Media Discuss Trump’s Mental Instability?

There has never been a president like Trump: his all-caps tweets; his total lack of human empathy; his bragging and boasting; his childish point-scoring; his narcissism.

Photo illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept, Getty Images

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Donald Trump’s Rose Garden speech last week announcing his emergency declaration over the “crisis” at the southern border was rambling, incoherent, and unhinged: in short, everything we’ve come to expect from the 45th president of the United States. There has never been a president quite like Trump: the all-caps tweets; his obsession with election results and crowd sizes; his bragging, his boasting, his childish point-scoring. And yet journalists treat him like any other politician instead of stating the obvious: Donald Trump’s mental unfitness for office makes him a dangerous president. Almost half of the country agrees, and plenty of Republicans, including Sens. Bob Corker and Jeb Bush, have expressed concern about his mental stability. To discuss the situation and where we go from here, Mehdi Hasan is joined by Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, and by Trump’s biographer, David Cay Johnston.

David Cay Johnston: Donald has always been deeply mentally ill. He literally believes that he should be running not just the U.S. but the whole world, that the rest of us are all fools and idiots, and that he is genetically superior.

[Music interlude.]

Mehdi Hasan: Welcome to Deconstructed. I’m Mehdi Hasan. With Donald Trump having declared a fake national emergency in order to seize more and more presidential power for himself, now might be a time to revisit a rather important question: Is this man mentally fit to hold such high office? To exercise so much power?

Bandy Lee: If you have someone saying they are a very stable genius, you would especially wonder about their mental health.

MH: That was Professor Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist at Yale University who’s editor of the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” I’m also joined by a man who has been following Trump’s life and career for many decades now, and he’s sounding the alarm bell too.

DCJ: From the beginning, I have said that Donald is a clear and present danger to the safety not just of the U.S. but of the world.

MH: That was David Cay Johnston, Trump biographer and author of the recent book “It’s Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.” So, on this week’s Deconstructed, Donald Trump isn’t a well man. Why aren’t we talking about this?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I tend to get very worked up about the state of the U.S. media. I spend a lot of time complaining about the media’s coverage of this president of the United States. It’s not just the normalization of Trump by the White House press corps and others that bothers me so much, or the way in which they fail to hold him to account or conduct tough interviews, but that so many top journalists regularly, consistently, and bizarrely ignore what they all know, what we all know, to be true. What we all know to be undeniable, indisputable, when it comes to this weirdest of presidents.

Because, in my mind, no coverage of Donald Trump can be complete or accurate without a clear acknowledgment, every time, of three things: that he’s a racist, that’s he’s a liar, and, above all else, that he’s mentally unstable. At best, he’s not a well man, at worst, he’s unhinged. He’s bonkers. I mean, how can you miss what’s staring you in the face? How can you fail to mention that the president you’re reporting on is off his rocker in so many different ways?

Take the national emergency that Trump declared last Friday in the Rose Garden of the White House. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, they all covered his statement and his exchanges with reporters on their front pages on Saturday morning, but they all covered it very straight, as if he was any other president. “Trump declares national emergency” was the sober headline. But the headline should have been “Madman declares national emergency.” “Deeply unwell President declares national emergency, in rambling, deluded, unhinged statement.”

Donald J. Trump: We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there. And we will possibly get a bad ruling…And I don’t have to do it for the election; I’ve already done a lot of wall for the election…I asked President Xi, I said do you have a drug problem? No, no, no. I said why? Death penalty. The penalty is death. So that’s frankly one of the things I’m most excited about in our trade deal…Rasmussen, 52 percent in the polls. It’s my highest poll number…Ann Coulter. I don’t know her. I hardly know her. I haven’t spoken to her in way over a year…Sit down, sit down.

Reporter: Could you — could you please answer it?

DJT: Sit down! You get one question…Fire and fury. Total annihilation. “My button is bigger than yours” and “My button works.” Remember that? You don’t remember that. And people said “Trump is crazy.

MH: To not mention the batshit craziness with which Trump approaches issues of huge importance like a national emergency, to turn a blind eye to the way he behaves in front of all of us, is journalistic dereliction of duty. It’s media malpractice. In the words of Esquire magazine: “Over and over again, reporters sit through an incomprehensible deluge of various phrase-like objects and unfinished sentences and then stand up, one by one, to ask this guy about his China policy or whatever. It’s a kind of collective suspension of disbelief, where everyone in attendance…agrees to pretend that the president is not, in fact, an old man whose brain is rapidly atrophying due to a debilitating level of cable news consumption.” End quote.

And you know what: when I hear top Democrats in Congress talking about doing deals with this president on infrastructure or immigration reform, I think: what on earth are you saying? The guy can’t be trusted or negotiated with because the guy isn’t all there and your priority, as Democrats, should be to try and contain the damage he’s already doing while working out how to get rid of him from office before he does something really crazy with all those powers that he absurdly possesses.

We all laugh and we say, ‘Oh Donald Trump’s like your old racist uncle at Thanksgiving dinner. Ha ha.” But it’s not funny. Your old racist uncle doesn’t have access to the nuclear codes, isn’t the commander in chief of the most powerful military in the history of the world, isn’t in control of the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, the Secret Service, isn’t the de facto leader of one of the two major political parties in this country.

There has never been a president like Trump, in fact there are few human beings like Trump — the all caps tweets; the obsession with the election result and his crowd size; the constant comparisons with Obama; his complete lack of human empathy; his inability to show any kind of sensitivity or humanity in times of tragedy; his constant references to himself in the third person; his bragging, his boasting, his childish point-scoring; his child-like attention span; his slurring of speech, his rambling incoherent answers to the simplest of questions; his inability to retain new information, basic facts and figures; his unwillingness to read anything; the narcissism, the egomania; his delusions about the world, about how he’s seen by the rest of the world. The deep-seated paranoia and insecurity, the angry rants, the ridiculous conspiracy theories. The bizarre voices that this 72-year-old man puts on in public.

DJT: The Democrats — Oh, there was a mosquito. I don’t want mosquitos around me. I don’t like mosquitos. I don’t like those mosquitos. I never did.

MH: And have you ever tried reading what Trump says? Go look at a transcript from one of his rallies. It’s astonishing. It’s mind-boggling. I cannot overstate how bizarre and beyond parody the transcripts of Trump speeches and interviews are. Try it for yourself. And, look, this isn’t some sort of liberal conspiracy or partisan attack on the president. Almost half the country, according to the polls, thinks Trump is mentally unfit. And plenty of Republicans have also pointed out that Trump’s not all there. I hate agreeing with a member of the Bush family but Jeb was spot on back in 2016.

Jeb Bush: He’s got — he needs therapy. I mean, seriously.

MH: Senator Bob Corker, who was then the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in 2017 —

Bob Corker: The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.

MH: Corker went on to describe the White House as an “adult day care center” and accused an erratic and reckless Trump of leading the United States “on the path to World War III.” Republican Senator Susan Collins was caught on a hot mic saying she was worried about Trump’s mental health. And a number of serving Trump administration officials from the infamously anonymous author of that op-ed in the New York Times, to the folks who spoke to Michael Wolfe for his book “Fire and Fury” and to Bob Woodward for his book “Fear” have confirmed that Trump’s mental state is regularly discussed inside the White House. In fact, Woodward quotes then White House chief of staff General John Kelly as telling colleagues: “He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.” Yeah, Crazytown.

Listen to Omarosa, who was a contestant on The Apprentice with Trump and ended up working in his White House for a year. Now she supports invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office, and she makes the point that a lot of people have made, which is that Trump has clearly deteriorated over the years — especially his speech, the way he talks. I mean, he was always a bigot and a liar but he wasn’t always this erratic, this incoherent, this out of control.

Omarosa Manigault: I met Donald Trump fifteen years ago. He wasn’t anything like this. The change in him has been quite dramatic. Before going into the White House, I never heard him slur his words.

MH: By the way, in case you’d forgotten that slurred speech from Trump announcing the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, here it is —

DJT: Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities and finally I ask the leaders of the region, political and religious, Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Christian and Muslim to join us. God bless the United States.

MH: Look, there’s clearly something wrong with him. And that we can’t say for sure whether the president of the United States is mentally impaired or not should scare the shit out of all of us. That there is no mechanism for determining, once and for all, officially, medically, whether or not he is mentally impaired should scare the shit out of all of us. And that the only constitutional mechanism designed for dealing with a mentally impaired or incapable president is the 25th amendment, which ludicrously requires the vice-president, a majority of Trump’s cabinet and two-thirds of Congress to get onboard with removing him, should the scare the shit out of all of us. Because an unhinged president is a clear and present danger to us all.

[Music interlude.]

MH: Last week the president had his annual medical test, basically just a physical. It didn’t tell us anything new, certainly not about his mental health. But a growing number of mental health experts are concerned. Back in 2017, a book called “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” was published, co-authored by a group of 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health professionals who warned that “anyone as mentally unstable as this man should not be entrusted with the life-and-death-powers of the presidency.” They went against the American Psychiatric Association’s absurd “Goldwater rule,” which says it’s unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion on a public figure unless they’ve conducted an exam on them, and they basically did us all a public service — this group of 27 — by painting a picture of a president who has “proven himself unfit for duty.”

Psychiatrist Lance Dodes, for example, a former Harvard Medical School professor, said Trump’s “sociopathic characteristics are undeniable” and his speech and behavior show signs of “significant mental derangement.” Another contributor to the book, clinical psychologist John Gartner, a 28-year veteran of Johns Hopkins University Medical School, argued that Trump is a “malignant narcissist” and “evinces the most destructive and dangerous collection of psychiatric symptoms possible for a leader.” Wow. That book “The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump” was conceived of and edited by Professor Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, and an expert on violence, and she joins me now from New York. Bandy Lee, thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.

BL: Thank you for having me.

MH: Dr. Lee for more than three years, we’ve watched Trump say and do crazy, reckless, bizarre things. Those of us who are not psychiatrists — a lot of us think he’s nuts. What is your view as a psychiatrist, a professor of medicine of his mental state as of today, February 2019?

BL: First of all, let me just say my usual disclaimer that I’m speaking for myself and none of my institutions. In terms of his presentation, it’s been familiar to us from the start. It’s a pattern that I myself have seen repeatedly over the thousand or so patients who have a similar presentation as Mr. Trump. And my concern was from the beginning that people were underestimating the severity of his problems and were misinterpreting his presentation as something normal or a variation of the normal which most people are accustomed to rather than a pattern of pathology.

MH: But what is it he’s exactly presenting with? What is it that you think is wrong with Trump? For example in your book, one of the contributors calls him a malignant narcissist. What does that mean? How does that affect his fitness for high office?

BL: So, narcissism can happen on a spectrum. To say that, for instance, all politicians are narcissists does not say anything about Mr. Trump’s narcissism because it’s not the fact that one is narcissistic in style that that is the problem. It’s the severity of it and that’s how most pathology occurs. So, it usually takes specialists who have seen many cases over time to be able to tell when something is within normal range or verging on the pathological and the warning signs for us where we were seeing patterns that were beyond the normal range and going into worrisome levels.

MH: Do you think as the Russia investigation ramps up and Robert Mueller gets ready to publish his report, as other investigation seem to get closer and closer to him, his inner circle, his kids, do you think he’ll react in a measured manner?

BL: Well, that’s essentially the concern that we have that he wouldn’t be able to and wouldn’t be capable of it. The problem is rather that the public and the rest of those in charge, such as lawmakers, will underestimate the level of extreme reaction that could come from this president. Most of us are capable of tolerating a certain degree of humiliation, criticism. When you have extreme narcissism the danger of it is that one can quickly go to resorting to violence and resorting to extreme measures to move away from the possibility of humiliation and to project force. And of course, in that situation, the presidential powers, the extent of the powers such as declaring a national emergency or using nuclear weapons, these situations will be very tempting.

MH: What do you say to some of your colleagues in the psychiatric profession who say that in diagnosing Trump from afar or discussing his mental health from afar you’re violating the “Goldwater rule” of the American Psychiatric Association, which says that it’s unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures whom they have not examined in person?

BL: I think we have to make a distinction between a professional opinion which is a diagnosis that is admissible in court as evidence versus the opinion of a professional. What’s curious is that the psychiatrists who have been criticizing us, especially those who have strong ties to the American Psychiatric Association or the pharmaceutical industry are precisely the ones who have in fact diagnosed Mr. Trump. We have not. We have explicitly refrained from diagnosing the president partly because I’m a strong supporter of the Goldwater rule, but when these prominent psychiatrists and the American Psychiatric Association is criticizing us, they are actually not adhering to the Goldwater rule. But they, for instance, the APA has expanded the Goldwater rule to cover not just professional opinion, but also any opinion that a professional might bring up or any statement whatsoever.

MH: So basically censoring you?

BL: So, they — it is a blanket prohibition without exception, without allowance for any moral agency on the part of the individual psychiatrists that is actually very alarming. Because if you think about it, they are withholding critical relevant information from the public. Expertise is meant to be shared.

MH: Just to be clear, just to be clear for our listeners because some people say, “Oh if you talk about these issues, you’re stigmatizing people with mental health —” Your position is not that people with mental health issues shouldn’t be able to serve in positions of office. Your point is that his problems make him uniquely dangerous?

BL: Exactly, having a mental disorder has nothing to do was with one’s ability to serve in an office. There are many presidents who have had mental disorders. Abraham Lincoln had debilitating depression according to all accounts and yet it probably has made him a more compassionate, better leader. So those are two different issues.

MH: And how do we avoid another Trump situation going forward with a person who is unfit to be president, who is a danger but has one finger on the nuclear button and another on Twitter? You’ve proposed setting up a panel of psychiatrist to evaluate all presidential candidates going forward. What is the status of that panel? Have you had any buy-in from Congress?

BL: Well, this is meant to be a panel that’s formed by mental criteria only and so we seek to be an independent expert panel that any political body can consult and the citizens can demand a fitness-for-duty exam of all presidential and vice presidential candidates. We are hoping that they will voluntarily submit to an exam.

MH: Why would someone like Donald Trump ever voluntarily submit to something like that?

BL: Exactly. So, it would be glaring. It’s in fact a symptom of mental impairment that one refuses to undergo evaluation or treatment. If you have someone saying they are very stable genius, you would especially wonder about their mental health.

MH: One final question, Dr. Lee. Are things going to get worse in your opinion with Trump’s mental, emotional health, with the danger he poses between now and 2020?

BL: Absolutely. Another aspect that we might wish to be vigilant about is the falling away of his so-called base. As loyal as they are and as full of adulation as they might be at the moment, once they are disillusioned about him, they could completely devalue him. And once that support falls away, he does not have the internal means of finding value for himself, finding in him self-worth and that will be experienced like a death of the self for him. And so, when he feels himself going down, it’s very likely he will wish to pull the rest of the world with him. And that’s that’s a really dangerous moment when his inflated self-image is wiped away by the lack of support of him and lack of resources to buttress it even for himself.

MH: On that worrying note, we’ll have to leave it there. Dr. Bandy Lee, thanks so much for joining me on Deconstructed.

BL: Thank you for having me.

[Music interlude.]

MH: My next guest is David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and author of two books on Donald Trump: “The Making of Donald Trump” and “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.” He’s been covering this president and has known this president for more than three decades. If anyone knows what’s going on inside Trump’s head. It’s David Cay Johnston. David, thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.

You’ve been talking to Donald Trump, reporting on Donald Trump, covering Donald Trump since the late 1980s. How different is he today, David, in terms of his emotional, psychological health, do you think, from when you first started covering him?

DCJ: Well, Donald has always been deeply mentally ill. He literally believes that he should be running not just the U.S. but the whole world, that the rest of us are all fools and idiots, and that he is genetically superior. In fact, he and members of his family have talked about the Trump horse race breeding theory of genetics. And they’re just smarter and more informed than the rest of us. And you know, he claims to be the world’s greatest expert on about, I think, it’s 22 subjects now.

MH: Yeah, nobody knows more than me about nuclear. Nobody knows more than me about etcetera, etcetera.

DCJ: That’s right, and then he proceeds to demonstrate that he’s a complete know-nothing on these things.

MH: That’s the key point, I think. There’s a lot of people who claim to be smart and kind of bullshit their way through it. He gives the exact opposite impression.

DCJ: Well, to a lot of people they believe him. That’s the really, I think, disturbing part about how naïve American politics are compared to the politics of people in Canada, Britain, Japan, Korea, Australia, Singapore where I’ve interviewed people about these things and overall, they have much better critical thinking skills than Americans do. And it’s part of the reason Trump gets away with what he does. There’s an old saying in America that we call poor people crazy, but rich people eccentric.

MH: Very true. When you watch him rambling through speeches or rallies or TV interviews, when you see him slurring his speech as he seems to do increasingly these days, what is your reaction as a journalist?

DCJ: Well, there are a couple of things. First of all, you know, Donald asserts that he does not use drugs and let me very carefully word this: I have no verifiable evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, he often talks like somebody who seems to be under the influence of drugs beginning with his repeated sniffling during one of the presidential debates to when he goes off in sing-song fashion as he did in the Rose Garden a few days ago. And there’s a second point, and that is when I first met Donald, he could keep together a long string of thoughts. He obviously cannot do that anymore. There’s been — Donald and I are almost the same age and I’m certainly aware that you know, I don’t have the same sharp mind I had it 40 now that I’m 70, but his deterioration is very significant compared to me and other people I know of our age group.

MH: And plus you’re not Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces and president of the U.S. And here’s the thing, he’s managed to get to the Oval Office. He ran this crazily successful insurgent candidacy in 2016 defeating 16 Republicans and Hillary Clinton, but in office, governing, the people around him have tried to protect him, have tried to help him. We know there was an anonymous official who wrote that New York Times piece saying, you know, “I’m part of the resistance. I’m not quitting because we’re trying to get stuff done.” But they’re enabling him, aren’t they? Because the people around him, we know from the leaks, we know from the people who have quit, they know he’s not fit for office. This is not just about speculation by journalists like you and me. This is about the people who are closest to him on a daily basis.

DCJ: Of course they know this and what’s troubling is the moment Donald announced June 16th, 2015 — so, almost four years ago — I went into a panic mode. I mean, I went “Oh my God, he just might get it,” because the stars had aligned in a certain way. I thought he could get the Republican nomination. I didn’t think he could win the election and of course, he did lose the popular vote. He won the electoral college, and I tried to get politics reporters to start asking the right questions about his criminal associations particularly with international cocaine trafficker, his lies, his refusals to pay people for goods and services and unfortunately politics reporters are rewarded for covering the horse race, not the substance. So, now that he’s in office, we’re finally getting some good serious reporting and lots of leaks out of this White House —

MH: We are but this is my objection, and I explain this at the top of the show, I do worry that politics reporters are so vested in the system, are so deferential to the office of the presidency that they’re almost like the people, you know, in the story of the emperor with no clothes. Where is the child who stands up and says the emperor is naked? Where is the reporter who stands up and says in a press conference “Are you okay, Mr. President, this is not normal what you’re saying”? Where is the reporter who does a live on CNN and tells the anchor or the viewers “That was batshit crazy what I just listened to?” Instead they stand up and ask serious questions as if he’s a serious man and he’s not.

DCJ: Well, let me express a little sympathy for the reporters. If you’re on a beat, you’ve got to maintain relationships with people and talk to them.

MH: Ah yes.

DCJ: So, I think you want to go at Trump on these matters sideways and let him reveal himself. And the smarter reporters have asked good questions. Now, I watched the other day in the Oval Office, a reporter, every network repeated asking a really badly framed question. The question was very specific about whether Trump tried to influence the investigation into Michael Cohen and by adding a lot of specifics — “Did you appoint someone or try to appoint them with a specific intent of trying to interfere with the Michael Cohen investigation?” You allowed him to get away with an answer of “absolutely not” when if you had said “Did you try to influence the appointment of prosecutors over the southern district of New York?”, you’d get a very different answer and reporters need to think much more carefully about questions that are broad and not vague.

MH: And the same applies to the the medical exams he took last week and the one last year. I mean, this is a joke. We now know that his doctor — do you remember that crazy doctor whose name now escapes me who says that Trump basically dictated the letter? And yet, I didn’t hear anyone ask the doctor last week, the White House doctor about that. I didn’t hear anyone ever ask Trump “Did you dictate that letter?” I mean it’s a pretty big deal that you have this guy in his 70s who’s president of the United States and we don’t know what his physical and mental health is really like.

DCJ: Quite true and they did not do the kinds of tests that would address this. And furthermore the official statement the White House put out which I agree with you reads like Donald dictated it or at least the outlines of it, doctors don’t opine that you’re going to have a long future life. That’s just not how it works.

MH: Yes. That’s what it said, didn’t it? It said beyond, the presidency and beyond.

DCJ: Right.

MH: Which is bizarre. No doctor would actually give that kind of sweeping future prediction. When you hear psychiatrist like Bandy Lee of Yale, who edited the book on Donald Trump’s health, when you hear someone like her say that he’s a danger, his state of mind, the way he approaches issues, his insecurities make him a danger — he’s only gonna get more dangerous as the net closes in — do you agree with that? Do you worry that he’s a danger because of his, because of his mindset?

DCJ: Mehdi, from the beginning I have said the Donald is a clear and present danger to the safety not just to the U.S. but of the world. Now, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I have read the army field manual on promoting officers which any ordinary person who’s thoughtful can read and it gives you what are the basis for choosing officers for promotion. Do they accept responsibility? Do they listen to options? Are they open to new information? Things like that. There are six basic tests there. Donald fails every single one of them.

MH: Here’s a question to you before we wrap up: Mike Pence knows that Donald Trump is mentally unfit for office. The cabinet knows he’s unfit for office, but they are a bunch of sycophants. We’ve seen them do televised encomiums to Trump saying how wonderful it is to serve him. There is no chance that this vice president or this cabinet are going to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office under, kind of, incapacity terms, is there?

DCJ: Unless Donald were to tear his clothes off in public and scream that the martians are coming, I cannot imagine that for a minute because these are people, including Pence, who are not qualified to hold these positions and that’s what you need to remember. Donald said he would get the best people, what he really meant was he would appoint those people who would say “Sure, whatever you want, Donald, just so I can say I was the Secretary of X.”

MH: Wilbur Ross comes to mind. For me ultimately, you can take all the obstruction of justice. You can take Mueller. You can take all the stuff that’s going — the racism, the prolific dishonesty, but ultimately, it comes down to we all know that this man shouldn’t have his finger on the nuclear button. And every night, we go to bed and we wake up in the morning and we think you know, he could destroy the world any moment. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that.

DCJ: No, it is not at all. This is a man who’s threatened to kill all 25 million people in North Korea and that anyone would even imagine doing that is as crazy as his belief that Kim Jong-Un would ever give up his nuclear weapons —

MH: And then he went to the other extreme and said “I love him. He’s sending me love letters.” It’s that erratic behavior that’s so bizarre.

DCJ: And it goes to the fact that Donald has a completely unstructured mind. He never studied. He never learns anything. In my book “The Making of Donald Trump,” I give people just killer examples of where he should have said “Oh, I’ve got a better answer for that,” but he didn’t learn. Donald creates his own reality. Whatever he says to him, that’s the truth at the moment. It has nothing to do with actual objective facts.

MH: That is deeply depressing. David Cay Johnston, we’ll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining me on Deconstructed.

DCJ: Well, thank you for having me.

[Music interlude.]

MH: That was Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and Veteran Trump biographer David Cay Johnston warning us that the president is a clear and present danger to us all. And you know, it’s bad enough when any president declares a national emergency based on a lie — remember, there is no crisis or emergency at the southern border — but when that president is unhinged, is bonkers, is a danger to us all because of his mental unfitness for office, then yeah, we should be extra worried and it should be at the center of our political, at the center of our media coverage.

We’ve got to stop tip-toeing around this issue. It matters. He’s in need of help. It’s obvious to anyone who pays any attention to him, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar or is just as deluded as Trump himself. He is a danger to this country and to the wider world. It’s just that undeniable. I’ll leave you with the words of journalist Andrew Sullivan, writing in 2017 about the madness of King Donald: “When the linchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge,” Sullivan wrote in New York Magazine. “There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.”

[Music interlude.]

MH: That’s our show. Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept, and is distributed by Panoply. Our producer is Zach Young. Dina Sayedahmed is our production assistant. The show was mixed by Bryan Pugh. Leital Molad is our executive producer. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor in chief.

And I’m Mehdi Hasan. You can follow me on Twitter @mehdirhasan. If you haven’t already, please do subscribe to the show so you can hear it every week. Go to to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice, iPhone, Android, whatever you like. If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review. It does help new people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at Thanks so much! See you next week.

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