On Thursday, a legal group filed three separate Freedom of Information Act requests to learn if President Donald Trump is a “moron” and must be removed under the 25th Amendment. Seriously, that’s how they titled their statement, obtained by Law Newz: “Legal Advocacy Group Files Urgent Freedom Of Information Act Request Of Government Information On Whether President Trump Is A ‘Moron.'”
Free Speech for People said:
Under Trump’s command, Cabinet members and even high-ranking Republicans have reportedly questioned whether Trump has the mental capacity to serve as President. Americans have a right to know whether the President is mentally fit for office, and the Cabinet and Congress have a responsibility to protect the country if he is not.
Free Speech for People, a nonprofit that describes itself as nonpartisan, was started in opposition to the controversial ruling in Citizens United, and has previously opposed Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
On Thursday, the group asked for documents and the like regarding whether the president’s mental capacity was ever questioned by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, and former Security of Homeland Security John E. Kelly. Accordingly, FOIA requests were filed separately with State, Defense, and DHS. Law Newz reached out to all three agencies for a response.
The “moron” reference is in regard to a NBC report, in which three anonymous officials claimed Tillerson called the president a “moron” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon. It’s unclear what specifically sparked the comment, though NBC later reported that according to three anonymous officials, Trump said in the meeting that he wanted to increase the United State nuclear arsenal by ten times.
Top officials have done their best to put on a friendly face, and dismiss reports. Mattis called the news about the nuclear arsenal “absolutely false.” Kelly himself, now Chief of Staff, has said he has no plans on leaving. Tillerson has denied reports that he wanted to resign, though he did not deny calling the president a moron.
Trump is idiosyncratic. That much is clear. It’s an oft-cited reason why his supporters voted for him. But a recurring criticism of his administration is whether his personal behavior could be a sign of some sort of mental deterioration, and whether cabinet members would need to remove him under the 25th Amendment. This has never happened to a president. Law Newz columnist Robert Barnes argued in February that incapacity under the law is a very narrow concept. For example, one must be in a coma, or otherwise incapable of providing for their own basic need.
“To be incompetent or incapacitated, as any lawyer knows, compels a very high standard of proof of completely inability to function,” he wrote.