Top House Republicans who attended a presentation about China and trade on this week also received a psychological profile of President Trump.
Larry Lindsey, a former economic adviser to president George W. Bush who now runs a consulting business, was invited by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to give an overview of the U.S.-China trade war.
Lindsey also came prepared Tuesday with his own research on Trump’s character, telling Republican lawmakers that he had asked two psychologists to evaluate the president from afar. The professionals found that Trump was a “10 out of 10 narcissist,” Lindsey told the Republicans, according to a GOP aide present at the talk who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“That’s what he scored,” Lindsey said, clarifying this wasn’t just his opinion.
Lindsey continued with more armchair psychology, diagnosing Trump’s behavior as a symptom of his upbringing and a mother who didn’t pay enough attention to him.
Biographers have struggled to build a full portrait of Trump’s mother, Mary, a Scottish immigrant who the president has described as a demanding woman with a stern Presbyterian faith and a love of pageantry and showmanship. Some executives who knew Trump in the early stages of his career said Trump’s mother spoiled him, yet she’s only a thinly described figure in Trump’s own retelling of his childhood.
Lindsey also compared Trump’s long-term planning ability to that of an “empty chair.”
The riff on Trump, first reported by Politico, lasted about two minutes as part of a longer presentation on China. Lindsey was otherwise complimentary about how Trump has handled the trade conflict.
Lindsey also shared a character analysis of Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a “sociopath.” He described the two nations’ standoff as “existential” and said neither country can win so the U.S. has to stay tough.
“It was actually an informative and interesting conversation,” the GOP aide said.
Members in attendance did not attempt to challenge Lindsey’s characterization of Trump, aides said.
“I think most were a little taken aback but no one interrupted,” another GOP aide said. “I was surprised McCarthy didn’t since it was his guest.”
McCarthy’s spokesman Matt Sparks declined to comment.
“It was bizarre and very unclear why he was chosen to be an invited guest,” the second aide said. “It came out of nowhere. I assumed he was invited to talk about the economy but he went right into the whole psychoanalysis thing.”
A person with narcissistic personality disorder will exhibit such traits as a “grandiose sense of self-importance,” “requires excessive admiration,” “is interpersonally exploitative” and “shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes,” according to the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for personality disorders.
Many mental health professionals have tried to diagnose Trump from a distance despite the APA’s “Goldwater rule,” prohibiting psychiatrists from assessing public officials if they did not evaluate them in person.
But some have challenged that rule, arguing it is their “duty to warn” the public if they determine there’s enough evidence to suggest Trump has a serious mental health issue. A petition to that effect was signed by 70,699 mental health professionals.
Marc Fisher contributed to this report.