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December 6, 2017

December 5 through ?

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Weds. Dec. 6, 2017

Here’s a good letter to The St. Louis Post Dispatch: America’s Great Divide Over Donald Trump which contrasts the views of Duty to Warn clinical psychologist  John Gartner and a Trump supporting behavioral psychologist who works with commodity traders. Her article, Trump Is Not Mentally Ill is such a fawning unprofessional piece I could barely read it. Here’s an example: 

Do not confuse your disgust with what you believe are his policies juxtaposed against those of his predecessor, which were so different. He’s been hit with everything in serial time; from vulva contact in a sexually colluding industry of both genders to being a liar to a fantabulous Russia concoction used by the FBI and its former director, James Comey, for politics to mental illness to ... on and on and on.

As each smearing has not been effective enough, a new one is tried. The loser? The country. Should there be any discussion or debate of mental illness regarding the president, I volunteer heartily to represent the president for the courageous man he is — a male with testicular fortitude. He is to be admired as a person who works exceptionally hard and who might be a role model for achievement were he not demonized so.
Frank Bruni, in this article today, presents insight into Trump’s personality.
Here’s the link. Click image to enlarge.

The Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio told me, “He has hangers-on and he has employees and he has other dependents, but I don’t think he has friends.” 

He’s too twitchily suspicious. Too vain. And so that twitchiness and vanity go unchecked. They metastasize.
I asked Tollin what a person unschooled in friendship might also be unpracticed at. “Compassion?” he responded. “Compromise? Those are things you learn from friendship.”
For Trump, “friendship” isn’t a two-way street. It’s a cul-de-sac. You can spin round and round there, in the shadow of his castle, or you can take your vehicle somewhere else.
 He gathers and discards allies at will. He acts to sate his own needs, unworried about the impact on others. For him they don’t fully exist. There’s no space for them, because he has never forced himself to carve it out.

“I think of it as an absolute void,” D’Antonio said. It’s no way to live, and it’s no way to lead.

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post.

There are so many quotes that it can be difficult to choose a disturbing reference in the media to Trump’s mental illness stated in equivocating words. Here’s one from The New York Times:

Trump’s Endorsement of Roy Moore Points Up a G.O.P. Problem: Chaos

 "Mr. Trump’s improvisational, and often impulsive, political decision making has become so routine that Republican leaders now accept that there will be days when he suddenly endorses and telephones candidates, including one accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Breaking: Trump isn’t Time’s person of the year, but he gets a dishonorable mention (HB):

Discussions of sexual harassment in polite company tend to rely on euphemisms: harassment becomes "inappropriate behavior," assault becomes "misconduct," rape becomes "abuse." We're accustomed to hearing those softened words, which downplay the pain of the experience. That's one of the reasons why the Access Hollywood tape that surfaced in October 2016 was such a jolt. The language used by the man who would become America's 45th President, captured on a 2005 recording, was, by any standard, vulgar. He didn't just say that he'd made a pass; he "moved on her like a bitch." He didn't just talk about fondling women; he bragged that he could "grab 'em by the pussy."
That Donald Trump could express himself that way and still be elected President is part of what stoked the rage that fueled the Women's March the day after his Inauguration. It's why women seized on that crude word as the emblem of the protest that dwarfed Trump's Inauguration crowd size. "All social movements have highly visible precipitating factors," says Aldon Morris, a professor of sociology at Northwestern University. "In this case, you had Harvey Weinstein, and before that you had Trump."

Megyn Kelly, the NBC anchor who revealed in October that she had complained to Fox News executives about Bill O'Reilly's treatment of women, and who was a target of Trump's ire during the campaign, says the tape as well as the tenor of the election turned the political into the personal. "I have real doubts about whether we'd be going through this if Hillary Clinton had won, because I think that President Trump's election in many ways was a setback for women," says Kelly, who noted that not all women at the march were Clinton supporters. "But the overall message to us was that we don't really matter.”
Donald Trump undeniably influenced the events of 2016, and in a way, the 2017 award is still about him. His name comes up multiple times in the cover story, from references to the Access Hollywood recording to the Women’s March, with one expert calling him a “visible precipitating factor” to the movement: his presidency and his blatant misogyny that have galvanized women more than almost anything else this year. One can’t help but read Time’s choice as a direct rebuke to the man sitting in the Oval Office. It’s a small, but powerful, consolation prize.

Dozier, 69, who has been pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach for 32 years, now says he’s lost respect for the president based on his actions in office.

The complete and unequivocal takedown of the Republican president comes from someone who’s been preaching the gospel of the Republican Party for decades, attempting to convince black voters that the party has far more to offer them than the Democrats.

Dozier said Trump has driven him away from the Republican Party — and is driving the Republican Party toward ruin. Dozier changed his voter registration on Tuesday, becoming a no party affiliation/independent voter after decades as a Republican. He said the only Democratic presidential candidate he voted for was Jimmy Carter in 1976, something he later regretted.

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017
Evening Edition:

As Trump has a mental meltdown, the sycophants around him doing nothing endanger us all

Corey Lewandowski stuns ‘The View’ with over the top rant about ‘killer’ Trump

Corey Lewandowski thinks he’s praising Trump. Instead he is giving us an insider’s view of Trump’s malignant narcissism:

Is Trump Crazy Like a Fox or Plain Old Crazy?


Bret Stephens: Um, was he ever on his rocker, Gail?
Look, I’ve gone back and forth on this question. If you look up old interviews he conducted 20 or 30 years ago (check out this video of his testimony to a congressional committee in 1991), what you find is a much more coherent thinker and verbally acute speaker than the man he is today. I’m not expert enough to say at what point mental decline slides into senility or dementia, but there’s clearly been a decline.

Gail Collins: Agree. But a lot of that is just arrogance. If you’d told the younger Donald Trump he was a future president of the United States, I doubt he’d have bothered to be coherent back then, either.
Plus in that congressional testimony he was reading prepared remarks, which always work better for him. Only problem is now he’s so full of himself he can’t stick to the script.

Bret: There’s also the matter of his emotional state. Again, I’m in no position to make a diagnosis but I’m not alone in suspecting that he meets most of the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. And the frequently unhinged and spasmodic tweets suggests a guy who isn’t in control of himself.

Below: Editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” Bandy Lee on MSNBC. 

In a nutshell.

Mueller’s Facts and Trump’s Make-Believe by Roger Cohen in the New York Times today


“Just tell them and they believe you.” That’s Trump’s credo. In the same way he believes women appreciate his “Grab-’em-by-the-pussy” approach. The president believes what he wants to believe.

With the power he has he thinks he can shape an alternate reality and persuade enough Americans of its authenticity to perpetuate his power. He believes he can turn Americans from citizens into apprentices. Apprentices, in his experience, are pliable to his whim.

In George Orwell’s novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” the chief protagonist, Winston Smith, meets an acquaintance at an interrogation center and asks why he is there.

“To tell you the truth,” the friend replies. “There is only one offense, is there not?”
Truth telling is the fundamental, unpardonable offense in any unfree society. The only “truth” in a totalitarian system is lies. Trump attacks truth because he cannot bear the mirror it holds up to him, the emptiness it unmasks. He is drawn to the world’s despots, rather than its democrats, because they can make stuff up and get away with it.

If you missed it this morning: ‘They’re shocked the noose is tightening’: MSNBC’s Mika says Trump team doomed by cluelessness

Scarborough said Trump and his team thought lawmakers and government officials were “dumb local yokels” who could be bullied or manipulated.
“You’re just a bunch of hicks in Washington, D.C. — let the big city developers come in and we’re going to show you,” Scarborough said. “They wouldn’t listen to anybody, and they stumbled into one possible crime after another possible crime, and then Donald Trump goes into his mode. He thinks taking on Bob Mueller is the same as taking on Rosie O’Donnell — I’m dead serious, he does. He thinks this worked with Rosie O’Donnell, I’ll do this with (James) Comey, I’ll do this with Mueller. He has no idea that he’s going down.”

The Mind of Trump - Vanity Fair


“We’re in very dangerous territory,” said one source close to the White House.

Caught in the center of this Trump maelstrom is John Kelly, the former general-turned-chief of staff, brought in earlier this year to stabilize a warring West Wing and restrain the president from his worst impulses. Part of his initial strategy involved limiting the information that ended up in front of Trump, from news sources to people, even going so far as to reportedly keep Trump from entering the dining room at Mar-a-Lago. That worked—to a point. Several of Trump’s confidants outside the White House told The Wall Street Journal that now, if they wanted to get in touch with him, they simply call his wife, Melania Trump, and ask her to pass on messages to the president. “If I don’t want to wait 24 hours for a call . . . getting to Melania is much easier,” said one such confidant. Trump has also taken to asking his aides not to tell Kelly about his private phone calls (a request they declined at least once), and apparently has free reign on Twitter. “Believe it or not, I don’t follow the tweets,” Kelly said recently.

Though Trump’s colleagues were quick to emphasize to the Journal that Trump’s belligerence has not destabilized his relationship with Kelly, for whom he maintains a deep respect, Trump’s spiraling tantrums over the Mueller probe nonetheless have consequences for his staff. If they were paranoid that the plea deals of George Papadopoulos and Flynn would bring Mueller to their door, Trump’s tweets implicating himself have only put them further on edge. “They’re probably shitting bricks,” an attorney representing a senior Trump aide told Politico. “How can you not?”
The Atlantic has a long, revealing article about Mike Pence. I found this part the most interesting:

He was genuinely shocked by the Access Hollywood tape. In the short time they’d known each other, Trump had made an effort to convince Pence that—beneath all the made-for-TV bluster and bravado—he was a good-hearted man with faith in God. On the night of the vice-presidential debate, for example, Trump had left a voicemail letting Pence know that he’d just said a prayer for him. The couple was appalled by the video, however. Karen in particular was “disgusted,” says a former campaign aide. “She finds him reprehensible—just totally vile.”

Yet Pence might also have thought he glimpsed something divine in that moment of political upheaval—a parting of the seas, God’s hand reaching down to make his will known. Marc Short told me that in moments of need, Pence turns to a favorite passage in Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Short said, “Mike believes strongly in the sovereignty of God, and knowing that the Lord has a plan for him.”

Whatever God had planned for Mike Pence, however, it was not to make him the Republican nominee that weekend. Trump proved defiant in the face of pressure from party leaders. “They thought they were going to be able to get him to drop out before the second debate,” said a former campaign aide. “Little did they know, he has no shame.” Indeed, two days after the tape was released, Trump showed up in St. Louis for the debate with a group of Bill Clinton accusers in tow, ranting about how Hillary’s husband had done things to women that were far worse than his own “locker-room talk.”

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December 3, 2017

December 1st through?

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Monday, Dec. 4, 2017
Quote of the day about Trump, he’s “less than particularly hinged” from panelist Jonathan LaMire of The 11th Hour. Brian Williams completed him for his coming up with the term.

Perhaps Trump’s best defense about the FBI Tweet would be that he was delusional when he wrote it. Perhaps when he Tweeted he wasn’t oriented to what he knew then and what he knows now? This actually fits with the diagnosis of rapidly decompensating reality testing.

I try to find and post all articles abut Trump’s mental health and the Duty to Warn movement, even when they present arguments and opinions I disagree with. Here’s the latest example. I won’t bother to critique his argument since anyone reading this website on a regular basis can do so themselves. 
This is the comment I put on the story:

I applaud the airing of contrary mental health professionals opinion that run counter to my own about the duty to warn about Trump’s malignant narcissism being dangerous. I think contention of this assistant professor of psychiatry that duty to warn doesn’t apply to people in public positions who represent a danger is too literalistic. True, duty to warn (which was put into law in the Tarasoff decision) was meant to apply to your own clients.
We, DTW therapists, have expanded that because of exigent and unique circumstances.
Members of the MH professions have a special knowledge that they are, in my view, morally and ethically obligated to share. Who else, but them? Trump’s dangerous behavior is inexplicable to many people. We explain it to them. If we stay silent we believe we would be partially culpable if, for example, he starts a war because of paranoid delusions.
As for his argument that declaring Trump as mentally ill stigmatizes everyone else struggling with a psychiatric disorder, I think this is simply not true. I think it vastly underestimates the common sense of the public.
On my own website I endeavor to post every article on this subject, even those I disagree with. Hence, this piece is on today’s list.

Check out the comments on this article. It is gratifying to see how many people disagreed with the premise of this author, including my friend and associate, psychoanalyst Howard Covitz, below:

I would like to support and piggy-back on Hal Brown's comment, below. Disclosure: I'm one of the contributors to The Dangerous Case book and chaired one of the 14 October meetings sponsored by Duty to Warn. I will begin by noting that, indeed, one of our speakers felt strongly and was in line with the above-author's views. But as to my comments ... First ... the Duty to Warn, Duty to Protect, Free Citizen Therapists and the Coalition of Concerned MH Professionals are not, to my knowledge, against the Goldwater Rule, anymore than they are against the Red Light Rule. I stop at red lights and wait for them to turn green. Still, 51+ years ago when I was driving my wife to deliver our first child and she seemed ready to pop, I slowed down at each red light and then continued with caution to go through intersections on our trek to the delivery room. It's not Goldwater that's problematic but the view that it has no limits that is being challenged. Indeed, I can think of no rule that cannot be waived to save lives. This is not new, by the way. Leviticus 19:16 sets up the tension between Goldwater and the mandate to protect from harm: "Don't go looselipped among your people (but) don't stand idly by as your neighbor bleeds: I am God" or, as I prefer in translation, 'balancing these is Godliness." Trump shows the stigmata of severe personality disordered people. Now, whether he is ill or not would be more or less irrelevant, if he didn't appear to lack the ability to see others as Subjects in Their Own Right and wasn't armed to the teeth. The groups have paused, thought through their concerns, are able to give them credible support and ARE asking that Trump be evaluated to determine whether he had sufficient judgement to be trusted with the future of my Grandchildren and the World, at large. I havem for the record, treated many people with severe illnesses who still have a modicum of empathy ... who wouldn't talk casually about blowing up the Korean Peninsula, or break the Biblical rules against mocking the handicapped or the human rule against humiliating mourners and War Veterans. All this to say? ... the talk about Goldwater Rule is a red herring and getting to smell like an old red herring.


    By way of disclosure, Howard Covitz and I have worked together in Duty to Warn since before the movement even had a name. I marvel at how he can find the perfect Biblical verse that fits our current situation. While I am no fan of Leviticus,* this is a great quote to convey to some of Trump’s evangelical supporters: Leviticus 19:16 sets up the tension between Goldwater and the mandate to protect from harm: "Don't go looselipped among your people (but) don't stand idly by as your neighbor bleeds: I am God" or, as I prefer in translation, 'balancing these is Godliness.” Thank you Howard.
    * (For example: Leviticus 20:13New Living Translation (NLT)
    13 “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.

Not a link - click image to enlarge
If you don’t have a subscription to the NY Times online, here’s a Daily Beast article about Billy Bush.

Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017
For the record Mister President, either everyone else on the bus was delusional or it’s you. (HB)

He said it. “Grab ’em by the pussy.”

Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.

We now know better.

Also from the long NY Times OpEd by Billy Bush:

None of us were guilty of knowingly enabling our future president. But all of us were guilty of sacrificing a bit of ourselves in the name of success.

Ten years later, I did speak up. Soon after Mr. Trump declared his candidacy, I let it be known on “Access Hollywood Live” that I thought this was an absurd idea.

In the days, weeks and months to follow, I was highly critical of the idea of a Trump presidency. The man who once told me — ironically, in another off-camera conversation — after I called him out for inflating his ratings: “People will just believe you. You just tell them and they believe you,” was, I thought, not a good choice to lead our country.

Some TV critics are saying the Saturday Night Live cold open Trump skits are getting shop-worn and should be discarded. You be the judge:

Sat. Dec. 2, 2017
My own articles in Daily Kos don’t count as media publicity about Trump’s deteriorating mental state because, lamentably, hardly anybody reads them. This Daily Kos article (below) is  as much about the media covering Trump as much as it is about Trump… 

From the Weekly Observer in the UK

"When we put this book (“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”) together seven months ago, people probably thought we were outlandish, and a little extreme," Lee said. "But within that time, the public caught on and [nearly] everything that we predicted in the book came true." 
Lee said the book's writers predicted that Trump's "condition was far worse than what we were seeing" in early 2017.
Citing ethical rules, Lee would not say how she would diagnose Trump, based solely on his public comments and demeanor. But she said that based on his behavior, he seems to be reacting adversely to the stress of an ongoing criminal probe of his presidential campaign's contacts with Russia, saber-rattling by North Korea, and his decreasing popularity among the public.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment by CNBC on Lee's comments.

Washington Post: The media is asking a lot of questions about Trump’s sanity these days Excerpt below left:

Part of the thinking among some in the press is that Trump’s behind-the-scenes remarks to aides and lawmakers could be more indicative of his mental state than anything he says publicly because private comments might reveal his true thinking.

“It's one thing if he’s saying it to you, or to me, or to the base, or from the podium to just kind of excite his base and play with people’s uglier suspicions about life,” CNN's Chris Cuomo said Wednesday, when interviewing New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin. “But if he's saying it in private, like he means it, what does the reporting reveal?”

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote on Thursday that “it is one thing to create a fantasyland for political ends — appealing to some voting group’s prejudices or giving supporters a reason to excuse bad behavior. It is another thing altogether, however, for Trump to fall into his own rabbit hole and actually believe what he once knew to be untrue.”

Also from China, a few days ago:

I doubt the following even registered on the “Bring Back Christmas President” but you bet he would have bragged if the crowds were huge. HB

Friday, Dec. 1, 2017
The psychological pressure on Trump built this week culminating in the guilty plea by Michael Flynn. The questions being raised in the media about his mental stability, below, reflect this. HB
Excerpt (emphasis added):

This past week was, in some ways, the most potent distillation of the Trump era we have yet encountered. This is not because any single incident is worse than any previous one over the past year. It’s because the last few days have brought all of them together in a new, concentrated way — a super-storm, as it were, of liberal democratic destruction. We have deranged tweeting; truly surreal lies; mindless GOP tribalism; evangelicals making excuses for the molestation of minors; further assaults on the free press; an unprecedented attack on the most reliable Atlantic ally; the demonization of personal enemies; stupendous tribal hypocrisy with respect to sexual abuse; the White House’s endorsement of a foreign neo-fascist hate group; the vengeful hanging out to dry of a Cabinet member; and the attempt to pass a catastrophic omnibus piece of legislation in one mad, blind rush in order to get a “win.” And all in a few days!

The author of this is a Trump ditto-head, a novelist who is ignorant about psychology.
See below.

The author of the HuffPost article is a Trump ditto-head as his Twitter Tweets show. Here’s how I responded.
At its center is mental illness. It radiates out of the center like a toxin in the blood. And this, again, is nothing new. On Trump’s first day in office, with respect to the size of his inauguration crowd, he insisted that what was demonstrably, visibly, incontrovertibly false was actually true. At that moment, we learned that all the lies and exaggerations and provocations of the previous year were not just campaign tools, designed to con and distract, but actually constitutive of his core mental health. He was not lying, as lying is usually understood. He was expressing what he believed to be true, because his ego demanded it be true. And for Trump, as we now know, there is no reality outside his own perfervidly narcissistic consciousness.

Give such a man the power and trappings of the most powerful office on earth, give him a few months, and such delusions will get worse. Sane men and women are corrupted by the wielding of power; a psychologically disturbed figure from the get-go will degenerate into deeper and deeper forms of madness…...

Fox News: This is relevant as far as the pressure on Trump’s psychic stability because we know he watches Fox News. Fox regular on legal matters says it is a nightmare for him: 

‘Tip of a prosecutorial iceberg’: Fox’s Judge Napolitano explains why Flynn plea is ‘a nightmare for Donald Trump’


Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano on Friday reacted to the news that Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, referring to the plea as “the tip of a prosecutorial iceberg.”

“This is probably the tip of a prosecutorial iceberg, so to speak,” Napolitano told Fox’s Outnumbered. “It’s a nightmare for Donald Trump, because General Flynn was his constant companion on foreign policy and national security matters from June of 2015 to the time the President fired him in February of 2017.”

Napolitano noted the downside for Mueller’s investigation is any information Flynn has is “coming out of the mouth of someone the government itself has acknowledged is unworthy of belief,” considering the former adviser’s guilty plea. But he added “the downside for the president is this keeps the Russia story front and center at the time the president is beginning to move towards the achievement of his legislative agenda.”

This is a short letter but it is significant because the NY Times put it online highlighted in the Opinion section (above left)

We are currently witnessing more than his usual state of instability — in fact, a pattern of decompensation: increasing loss of touch with reality, marked signs of volatility and unpredictable behavior, and an attraction to violence as a means of coping. These characteristics place our country and the world at extreme risk of danger.
According to the New York Times, Trump has recently held “closed-door conversations” to revisit the racist birther campaign he used to launch his political career, again raising the non-issue of President Obama’s birth certificate. Aides note that Trump has “repeatedly claimed he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud,” a theory widely debunked by multiple voting experts with actual research and numbers on their side. In a general sense, staffers report, Trump “continues to privately harbor a handful of conspiracy theories that have no grounding in fact” and Axios notes Trump is now particularly “prone to confidently indulging wild conspiracies and fantasies.” The president has “expressed certainty” the Russia investigation will wrap within the next six weeks, “complete with an exoneration from Robert S. Mueller III,” according to sources who spoke with the Washington Post. Trump has even suggesting that 2005 footage of him bragging about grabbing women's pussies—which he previously verified as authentic and even tepidly apologized for—may not be real. “We don’t think that was my voice,” Trump told an anonymous senator, according to the Times.

To be honest, while all this is a bit worrisome, none of it is particularly shocking, considering Trump’s track record. Self-delusion has always been an integral part of the Trump brand, and is nothing short of a defining trait of the Trump presidency. Along with callous indifference toward others, as well as paranoia, narcissism and schizotypal thinking, the failure to recognize plainly observable reality is a classic marker of aspiring despots and tyrants; a character and personality flaw that, to put it mildly, tends to get worse as time and power accrue. What’s far more alarming than Trump being Trump is the response from those around him, who recognize how aberrant his behavior is, but do nothing as his decline accelerates. The most frightening aspect of Trump’s deteriorating mental state is how many of his confidants, colleagues and advisers seem totally okay with pretending everything is fine, at least publicly, indicating their willingness to endanger us all.

The Times cites a senator who listened as Trump ranted about Obama’s birth certificate and “chuckled” when he “recalled the conversation,” as if it was a bit of comic relief and not an awful sign about the president's lack of mental clarity. Trump seriously attempts to float the idea that the Access Hollywood tape is part of some grand conspiracy against him, and instead of sounding a warning bell, “most of Mr. Trump’s aides [have] ignored his changing story." When Trump asks advisers to support his completely unbelievable new storyline about the video, they simply keep things rolling, despite the elephant of mental illness in the room. 

Donnie Deutsch was taken in by what DTW psychiatrist Lance Dodes called the veneer of normalcy by this malignant narcissist. This doesn’t detract from his current observations. HB


Deutsch, a former ad executive who appeared on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” joined his “Morning Joe” colleagues in openly questioning the president’s mental health.
“I’ve known him for 20 years,” Deutsch said. “I was one of the first people to come out and bring up the mental health issue, (and) I got a lot of flak.”
“I’ve spent hours and hours with him — everything from negotiating leases to at-school functions to hours and hours of interviewing him on my old show,” Deutsch continued. “He’s not the same guy, you can see it in his eyes and speech pattern, and in, most frighteningly, his behavior.”
Deutsch speculated that Trump’s mental health was deteriorating as a result of stress related to the ongoing Russia investigation.

Moment of zen: Bebe Neuwirth sings and dances with Donald Trump