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ANALYSIS

Trump Facing ‘Psychic Collapse’ After Mueller’s Report Puts More Pressure on His Unstable Mind: Psychoanalyst

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On Friday, as the full weight of the Mueller report sunk in, proving far more damning that Attorney General William Barr’s memo, Trump dismissed the findings as “total bullish*t.”

That statement seems at odds with Trump’s earlier claim that the Mueller report exonerates him of all wrong-doing.

Raw Story spoke with Howard H. Covitz, Ph.D., a psychologist-psychoanalyst, about the President’s likely state of mind.

Covitz was for many years Director and Training Faculty of the Psychoanalytic Studies Institute and the Institute for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies in Philadelphia, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. His Oedipal Paradigms in Collision was nominated for the Gradiva Psychoanalytic Book of the Year.

He’s also taught university-level mathematics and psychology in the past. His connectedness to his wife, grown children, and grandchildren motivates his activism.

He contributed his wide-ranging insights to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Professionals Assess a President,” edited by Bandy X. Lee, which was re-released last month alongside a major Washington conference on presidential fitness (dangerouscase.org).

Raw Story: How did you come, as a psychoanalyst to enter public discussion about a public figure? Isn’t there a rule against professionals speaking in psychiatric terms about public figures?

Howard H. Covitz: I am a staunch advocate of that rule in all situations when there is no risk of catastrophic danger to others. I have chosen to speak out because a man was elected President (and given unimaginable powers to do good and evil) who shows the signs of those people who are prone to doing others harm.

For him, if I take his words seriously, life is a zero-sum game, and he must win all the time. The Psalmist said not about Trump but about the God that so many of his followers devoutly worship: “To God belongs the Earth and all that it contains” (Psalm 24). That’s not the way God-complex Trump sees it…. Furthermore, I must say, that any armed person who is not President and who is doing and saying what Donald Trump says often and openly would be whisked off by the gendarmes to a psychiatric facility for testing.

Raw Story: The Mueller report appears to at least legally clear Trump of collusion with Russia, although obstruction is still an open question. How do you explain Trump’s extreme negative reaction?

Howard H. Covitz: Since Donald Trump was a presidential candidate, we in the mental health community noted in him, one, an inability to see others as people in their own right (subjects with their own needs and intentions) but rather to see them as instruments for his use. Two, a splitting of the world into with-me and against-me camps, and three, an apparent lack of impulse control. He also appears to have no respect for extant organizations, laws or accepted wisdom. He’s shown an absence of nuanced thought (in addition to any question of cognitive decline). He’s demonstrated having only one truth, namely what he wishes to be true. The fact that he has nearly unlimited powers that are not being checked by the Senate or anyone else leaves the values of the Republic and the welfare of the world arguably in grave danger.

Raw Story: How do you think this information will land on the President’s supporters, given Trump’s unique relationship with his base?

Howard H. Covitz: We know the power of the mob and its allegiances to tribal beliefs. But beyond this, we know that the Fourth Estate, to a significant extent, has been wittingly or unwittingly complicit in treating many of Trump’s positions AS IF they were reasonable … they have been complicit, that is, in normalizing the pathological as during the rise of authoritarian regimes.

Having said that, it is difficult to believe that there will not be defections from the Trump cult, if room is made for these people who saw in Trump hope for a better day. I expect there to be efforts (either from the Right or from Russian bots) to paint the progressive camp as seeing half or more in the MAGA camp as “deplorables.”

Speaking not as a psychoanalyst but as a citizen, father and grandfather, it is absolutely necessary for us to avoid any further alienation of the right, including the Religious Right.

Raw Story: Do you envision the President doubling down on his agenda, including severely restricting immigration? Plus, today the President called the report “total bullshit” even though he also claimed it exonerated him. Why can’t the President stop while he’s ahead?

Howard H. Covitz: If, indeed, the elected President’s publicly displayed behaviors are indicative of severe pathology (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), the likelihood of his responding to the pressure of being exposed in any constructive manner is essentially zero.

We have made inroads into treating some such people with success, but this is a lengthy process and is not accomplished under the type of duress that the President is being exposed to with the damning pictures in Mueller’s report. We see from even the redacted report that, without the likes of John Kelly and teams of legal consultants, the six characteristics mentioned above would have moved him to even more dangerous and illegal positions.

He is being portrayed in the report as one who can be controlled – the Emperor, in the report, does indeed have small hands, so to speak. How someone like he will be able to integrate the public shaming that this brings forth for him is not predictable but should be a source for grave concern.

That having been said and, again, assuming again that his pathological behaviors are not all a show, we may presume either an increase in these disturbing behaviors (pulling out of NATO, declaring national emergencies for whatever he chooses to do, ramping up tensions with Iran, using the full-force of the executive branch to leash friends and whip foes, … ), or a psychic collapse.

We saw a notable change in his behavior when he left the White House on Thursday for Mar-a-Lago and refused to take any questions. The next days and weeks should clarify which of these paths he chooses and how much and what kind of violence he chooses to promote. It is impossible to precisely predict the future actions of someone who apparently lives under the belief that après moi le deluge.

These are, in my estimation, the most dangerous times thus far in Trump’s presidency … Dangerous for the republic with dangers for the world and dangerous for my grandchildren.

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ANALYSIS

Here Are the Two Avenues the DOJ Will Now Follow After Seditious Conspiracy Indictments

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The Department of Justice has two new investigatory avenues to pursue after indicting eleven Trump supporters for seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“The most interesting aspect of the recent indictments of 11 people accused of involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on charges of seditious conspiracy isn’t who has been charged — but who might be charged next,” former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade wrote for MSNBC.

The former U.S. Attorney wrote that it is “likely that prosecutors aren’t done yet.”

McQuade explained that the indictments help prosecutors move up to the higher people behind Jan. 6 and may result in cooperation agreements.

“Working up the chain of organized criminal conduct is part of the standard Justice Department playbook. Lower-level offenders can provide leads to higher-level offenders in two ways. One way is through the investigation of simpler crimes. For example, prosecutors may find ample evidence that a particular subject unlawfully entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. If prosecutors can also demonstrate probable cause that the person used his cellphone as a so-called instrumentality to commit the crime, a search warrant can be obtained for the contents of his physical device. A phone may contain evidence of criminal conduct, and it can also provide links to other offenders. Access to phones is particularly valuable in cases in which, as here, the defendants are alleged to have used encrypted messaging applications, such as Signal, to communicate, making it impossible for investigators to obtain the content of incriminating text messages through the normal route — from the service providers,” McQuade wrote.

She also explained the indictments may make it more likely suspects will “flip” and testify against other co-conspirators.

“Another way lower-level offenders can lead to evidence against more serious offenders is through cooperation. Defendants who are charged with crimes and are likely to face conviction can often help themselves by sitting down with prosecutors and providing debriefings of everything they know. Prosecutors refer to this process as ‘flipping’ a defendant from the defense side to the prosecution team. If that information is valuable, prosecutors will ask the court to reduce the cooperator’s sentence. Cooperators can provide verbal testimony, as well as point investigators to documents and other witnesses who can corroborate their stories. Cooperators can even voluntarily share the contents of their cellphones, providing access to encrypted messages that prosecutors may have been unable to obtain in the absence of probable cause that they used the phones as instrumentalities for the crime,” she explained.

The evidence obtained from this methodical approach can be “devastating.”

“The recent charges indicate that this methodical approach has yielded results. The indictment includes verbatim quotations from encrypted text messages among the Oath Keeper defendants, and they are devastating,” she wrote. “The content of other text messages appears throughout the indictment. No evidence is more powerful than the incriminating words of a defendant himself.”

Read the full analysis.

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ANALYSIS

Trump’s Latest Endorsement? A White Christian Nationalist Xenophobic Strongman

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Donald Trump recently has thrown the GOP into disarray, endorsing far right wing extremists who are opposed by Republican Party leadership, but his latest move is more an endorsement of his own political philosophy – and a statement about how he would govern if he becomes president again.

On Monday Trump, the one term, twice-impeached, insurrectionist former president who is under investigation by multiple legal authorities, endorsed authoritarian Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary.

Calling Orbán the “American right’s favorite strongman,” VOX in 2020 reported he “has given significant state support to Hungary’s churches, officially labeling his government a ‘Christian democracy.’ He provided generous subsidies to families in an effort to get Hungarian women to stay at home and have more babies. He launched a legal assault on progressive social ideals, prohibiting the teaching of gender studies in Hungarian universities and banning transgender people from legally identifying as anything other than their biological sex at birth.”

There’s more.

“After winning Hungary’s 2010 election, the prime minister systematically dismantled the country’s democracy — undermining the basic fairness of elections, packing the courts with cronies, and taking control of more than 90 percent of the country’s media outlets.”

And as NPR reported in 2019 when Trump hosted Orbán in the White House, the Hungarian authoritarian said: “We must state that we do not want to be diverse and do not want to be mixed: we do not want our own colour, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others. We do not want this. We do not want that at all. We do not want to be a diverse country.”

Last year Orbán was slammed for a “racist and xenophobic” speech, likening it to “fascist, Nazi, violent and genocidal ideologies that led to the Holocaust.”

Does all this sound familiar?

“Viktor Orbán of Hungary truly loves his Country and wants safety for his people,” Trump said in a statement Monday, The Washington Post reports. “He has done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming Election. He is a strong leader and respected by all. He has my Complete support and Endorsement for reelection as Prime Minister!”

Ben Rhodes, the former Obama White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, responded to the Trump endorsement, saying “we aren’t headed for a Hungary model – we are almost there.”

 

 

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ANALYSIS

Jan 6. Committee Report on Mark Meadows Is a ‘Blueprint of a Coup’: WaPo Columnist

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Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent is serving up a damning look at former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows‘ refusal to give a deposition before the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, saying it appears he is the one person who can testify to “how Trump responded to all these repeated demands that he call off the violent assault.”

Late Sunday night the Committee released its 51-page report that outlines its case against Meadows, including the bombshell that on Jan. 5 Meadows sent an email saying the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people.” The House will vote on sending the report to the Dept. of Justice for possible prosecution of Meadows for criminal contempt of Congress. The vote is expected to be successful.

Sargent says the “committee’s report on Mark Meadows is extraordinary — it’s a detailed blueprint of a coup. Notably, it shows Meadows can testify to Trump’s reaction to the violence as it unfolded. This is a huge element of what he’s covering up.” He adds that it “blows a big hole in Meadows’s pleasing little propaganda piece.”

He calls Meadows’ book “almost comically sanitized,”

“In his telling,” Sargent adds, “the rioters attacked the Capitol with ‘absolutely no urging’ from Trump, and the notion that Trump sought to incite them to disrupt his loss is purely an invention of the ‘Fake News.'”

In a passage that would embarrass a North Korea disinformation specialist, Meadows writes that the mob assault left Trump “mortified.” But, Meadows piously insists, this didn’t distract Trump from focusing only on the welfare of the country in his final days as president, a noble and selfless impulse that “never wavered.”

Sargent says the “whole coup blueprint is right there in black and white. And so is the scope and reach of what Meadows and others stonewalling the Jan. 6 committee are so eager to cover up. But we’ve now learned the committee has extensive receipts, and soon enough, we’ll see all of them.”

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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