Psychiatrist David Reiss, another contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” told me by email that the president likely would not qualify to be an Air Force officer entrusted with a nuclear weapon:

Every psychiatric Fitness-for-Duty evaluation involves assessing the problem-solving ability of the person, relevant to specific job duties; which includes gaining an understanding of the thought processes that are used in the process of problem-solving.

Trump’s public statements have provided little, if any, transparency to his inner thought processes. Extremely frequently and most typically, Trump will begin with a statement regarding his perception of a situation (a perception that may or may not contain verifiably false information) and then proceed to providing a conclusion or an opinion regarding the “necessary” course of action, with little verbalization of the logical analysis or thought processes that led from “point A” to “point B.”

Often, rather than providing any information as to alternatives that he considered and reasons for accepting or rejecting those alternatives, any “explanation” of Trump’s process of problem solving will be nothing more than a (frequently rambling) discourse regarding his feelings, his emotions and his (frequently grandiose) perceptions of his abilities. Thus, there is significant suggestion that Trump’s thought processes are inadequate to the position of being president of the United States.

If the implications of the New York Times op-ed are accurate, there would be strong evidence that Trump could not pass a psychiatric Fitness-for-Duty examination appropriate to his position.

Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, also agrees that Donald Trump should not have access to nuclear weapons. In a phone interview, Painter said, “Trump’s mental health puts the country at risk,” and suggested that if Trump were to order the unprovoked use of nuclear weapons, “the vice president could invoke the 25th Amendment and very quickly try to gain control of the situation, along with a majority of the Cabinet.”

Psychologist John Gartner, who has been a leading voice about the perils of Trump’s presidency and the dangers he poses to the United States and the world, described the New York Times op-ed, in an email, as an “extraordinary document by any standards.”

Essentially, the White House staff have de facto informally invoked the 25th Amendment, recognizing among themselves that [Trump] is incapable of carrying out the duties of the office. Knowing that he is dangerously mentally unbalanced, they are seeking to provide ballast to keep him from capsizing the ship of state. This is a madness of King George situation. Or perhaps we should say the emperor’s new clothes, where everyone can see the emperor has no sanity, even though no one is allowed to say it aloud.

The anonymous senior staff member who authored the New York Times article writes with the tone of someone who believes that he or she, along with others in Trump’s White House, is a patriot acting in the country’s interest. “Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” this person writes. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”

This is not just “cold comfort,” as this anonymous author puts it, but no comfort at all. In reality these aides and others in Trump’s orbit are enabling his regime and the harm he is causing. They are not heroes. Moreover, the anonymous Trump staffer and those other people who know how dangerous the president is but choose to stay on could actually be considered cowards. Like so many other Republicans and conservatives in the Age of Trump, they are putting party over patriotism and the well-being of the United States.

They bemoan Trump’s authoritarian and fascist behavior, yet continue to support him and his policies. They wish that Trump would not lie so often and act with such gross contempt toward the truth, yet continue to support him and his policies. They may describe Trump’s attacks on freedom of the press are “concerning” and “worrisome,” but they continue to support him and his policies.

Ultimately, this anonymous senior staff member appears more concerned about the mark history will put next to their name for working with the Donald Trump than with saving the United States from a president who they know to be dangerously unqualified and perhaps unsound of mind.

The anonymous Trump official concludes his or her article by calling on “everyday citizens” to rise “above politics,” reach “across the aisle” and “shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.”  Times op-ed as follows:

If this person really believed that and was willing to put the welfare of the nation first, perhaps he or she and the other “adults in the room” within Trump’s White House would resign as a group, hold a joint press conference and tell the world the grave threat posed by Donald Trump.

Of course that will not happen. Forcing a calamitous and destructive version of conservative policies onto the American people — which most of them do not support — is more important to this supposed whistleblower than protecting the country’s democracy from its enemies. Even those in the Oval Office.

CHAUNCEY DEVEGAChauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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