In January, shortly before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told a Republican senator that he wanted to investigate the [“Access Hollywood"] recording that had him boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.
“We don’t think that was my voice,” Mr. Trump told the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was not actually him, according to three people close to the president.
He had earlier acknowledged it was his voice and even put out a statement on the topic. He now doesn’t recall or won’t recall what he once thought or said. This is no quirk. It’s wrong to say this is simply a life-long habit or, worse, as Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is quoted as saying, that his compulsive fabrication shows he is a “person of destiny.” No, President Trump’s delusional thinking suggests he’s a menace to the country and utterly unfit to serve.
It seems to be a given among those who know Trump best that he is out of touch with reality. (“Mr. Trump’s friends did not bother denying that the president was creating an alternative version of events. One Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said that Mr. Trump’s false statements had become familiar to people over time. The president continues to boast of winning districts that he did not in fact win, the lawmaker said, and of receiving 52 percent of the women’s vote, even though exit polls show that 42 percent of women supported him.”) Rather than reveal the person with his finger on the nuclear button is disconnected from reality, his enablers work to conceal Trump’s malady. (“Mr. Trump’s journeys into the realm of manufactured facts have been frequent enough that his own staff has sought to nudge friendly lawmakers to ask questions of Mr. Trump in meetings that will steer him toward safer terrain.”)
Some Republicans find this all amusing. “One senator who listened as the president revived his doubts about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate chuckled on Tuesday as he recalled the conversation,” the Times reports. “The president, he said, has had a hard time letting go of his claim that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States.” Yup, a regular laugh-riot. A president so warped he holds onto racist conspiracy theories for years. A real knee-slapper. Think about that: He has a hard time letting go of an outright lie, a crackpot conspiracy theory that no one of sound mind honestly embraces.
To be blunt, the senator and Trump’s other enablers are unpatriotic and irresponsible. Their obligation is to make clear, not conceal, that the commander in chief cannot process reality and is so emotionally damaged that he must cling to long debunked falsehoods or relapse into denial after an interlude with reality. This is not, as the unnamed lawmaker suggested from behind the skirts of journalistic anonymity, cause for merriment. And it’s no trifling matter.
The Cabinet has an obligation to determine if the president is so impaired that he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” as the 25th Amendment sets forth. Congress has an obligation to defend the Constitution and exercise oversight, to gather testimony and other relevant evidence to determine if Trump is dangerously impaired.
Now, it may be that Trump knows full well he is lying. He may take delight in horrifying aides and lawmakers, like a child relishing the shock on adults’ faces when he uses foul language. If so, that makes him a moral abomination unworthy of his office, but not bonkers. If, however, he actually believes that former president Barack Obama wasn’t born in America, that Obama wiretapped him, that he (not Hillary Clinton) won the popular vote and the women’s vote and that it’s not his voice on the “Access Hollywood” tape, then he’s something far more problematic than a liar. In such circumstances, he would be mentally and emotionally incapable of performing his duties (which require one to grasp and process reality) and it would be long past time for him to go.