Never before has a U.S. President been considered possibly “insane” as much as President Donald Trump has over the past few months. The mere fact that there are people from both parties questioning the sanity of the United States President, should be cause for concern in and of itself.
With the Russia election interference investigation now in full swing, and many members of the Trump administration being subjects or targets of the investigation, one has to question if Donald Trump might actually be advised to use the frequent accusation that he could be mentally unstable, as a defense. If the current investigation leads to evidence that Trump did in fact collude with Russia in an attempt to interfere with our election, President Trump would not be able to simply plead “not guilty by reason of insanity” in order to circumvent any impeachment proceedings. It’s obvious that claiming insanity certainly won’t do him any good in keeping his presidency afloat, as insanity in and of itself would certainly be deemed reason for dismissal of the presidency (See the Twenty-fifth Amendment).
This is where things could get tricky though. Most legal experts claim that the President can not be indicted of a crime, so if in fact Trump is shown to have committed some form of crime, an Impeachment hearing would need to take place first — he would need to be kicked out of office, and then an indictment could be filed. Insanity could be deemed a defense for a criminal trial but not for an impeachment hearing. However, if Trump wants to use the insanity defense for a future criminal case, he would probably need to claim insanity during an impeachment hearing as well. Undoubtedly the idea of his mental instability will be brought up during such a hearing, and the defense would be faced with either accepting or denying that claim. If Trump and his team deny the claim, then they wouldn’t be able to very easily convince a criminal court later on that the opposite is true.
Of course this is taking things to a stage where we aren’t even close to being yet, but Trump’s sanity has been brought up by several large media outlets over the past few weeks. Eric Levitz of NYMag.com wrote an article titled “If the President Is Innocent, Then He Is Insane”, which examines Trump’s mental instability in more detail. Steve Froikin of EIGHTOH9 wrote an interesting article that questions if “Insanity” is a liable defense for impeachment. While he believes it may be, I personally do not see how it could possibly be deemed acceptable for a President to hold office while admitting that he is mentally unstable. Of course if the defense does hold up, there is no way the 25th Amendment and the rest of the Constitution would allow for him to continue to hold office.