As most know by now, about mid-day on Tuesday, Trump posted a threat to Judge Engoron’s law clerk by posting her picture as “Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend” and linked some of her social media platforms, putting her at extreme risk. It was insane.
Many know it’s a pattern, an insanely dangerous pattern.
MSNBC reports that Judge Engoron was furious, which is completely understandable. Judges and clerks, both law clerks and court clerks, deal with “bad guys” all the time, and it can be scary.
Every judge in America would be furious. Most feel protective of the people working under them.
Engoron ordered Trump to delete the post (damage done) and put a gag order on Trump.
But there is another consideration at work here. This is an ongoing pattern, a certain blood lust mixed with stochastic terrorism, probably envisioning someone “out there” taking out his enemies.
Trump is reckless but predictable. He knows he’s putting lives at risk, and that’s why he does it.
Is that a sane pattern, whether it is Milley, Jack Smith, Engoron, or Engoron’s law clerk? And what about Judge Chutkan and her three law clerks in Washington DC, are they safe?
George Conway, a Washington DC power lawyer, wants Judge Chutkan to order Trump to undergo a psychiatric exam.
I really think Judge Chutkan needs to order up a psych exam for the defendant https://t.co/hmFa6uY115
— Xeorge Xonway (@gtconway3d) October 3, 2023
The “I really” indicates to me that he’s dead serious about this. Judge Chutkan has an ethical duty to ensure Trump gets a “constitutionally sound, fair trial.” As part of that duty to the defendant, she has the power to order a psychiatric exam on her own without a motion.
In this case, she needs to give it strong consideration. If Jack Smith moved to have the Defendant psychiatrically examined, he would run the risk of making the trial look political.
But Judge Chutkan must decide on whether to grant a gag order — a limited one, and she must establish how much of a danger Trump represents in weighing the balance and limits of a gag order.
As part of that process, she may very well want Trump to undergo a psychiatric examination. To what degree is Trump dangerous to society?
It would be unusual. Generally, the standard for whether someone is psychiatrically fit to stand trial is very low. It boils down to “Does this person understand what’s going on well enough to help defend himself?”
But that may not be the basis by which Chutkan would issue the order — she can say that she knows Trump is psychiatrically fit to stand trial. She could say that she’s in an impossible situation.
She has a case and people to protect from a man running for president. She might order a psychiatric exam due to the “heavyweight on both sides of a gag order” and wants that psychiatric report to help her weigh that balance.
It is not likely. But it could happen. And it could happen quickly.
It’s not crazy, and it is possible. Trump may be fit to stand trial. But he keeps threatening people. This time, he threatened someone who doesn’t have the resources that Gen. Mark Milley has to protect his family.
Maybe it’s time for a medical doctor (Psychiatrist) and personality disorder specialist (Psychologist) to examine both aspects of Trump’s mental hygiene and give a neutral, scientific assessment as to the danger Trump represents.
I will never be a federal judge. But given the difficulty of the motion for a limited gag order and a presidential run, I would certainly think, “What would it hurt?”
But it could help save a life. And it could help with a possible reversal from an appellate court. She can point to the gag as needed because he’s psychiatrically reckless and seeks revenge and intimidation to an astonishing degree.
Most judges would likely see it as prudent. She must weigh such serious considerations.
And he is only going to get worse. A doctor would ask for relevant materials that the judge wants to be considered, and it would show a pattern of becoming increasingly dangerous behavior.
We saw it when he was president, right to the very end. We will see it in the court cases, like the one in front of Chutkan, as the “end” gets nearer.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on X @JasonMiciak.
Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.