The office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a letter from Congress’s attending physician on Tuesday proclaiming there to be “no evidence” that the leading Republican suffers from a seizure disorder or recently had a stroke.
Mr McConnell, 81, is one of the Senate’s oldest members. At two recent press conferences, he has appeared to freeze up completely and found himself unable to speak or respond to questions before being hurriedly led away by aides or other lawmakers.
The episodes have alarmed many; news of the congressional physician’s assessment of Mr McConnell’s health is likely to put some fears to rest while provoking further questions as well.
In the letter, which notes that Mr McConnell underwent brain imaging as part of his assessment, physician Brian Monahan wrote that “[t]here is no evidence that you have a seizure disorder or that you experienced a stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s Disease.”
The saga of the Senate GOP leader’s recent health concerns grows more complicated by the week. Earlier this year, Mr McConnell was hospitalised for a concussion; since then, he has suffered at least two falls, one of which was only revealed significantly after the fact despite occurring in public at DC’s Reagan Airport.
His latest freezing episode occurred at a press conference in Kentucky. In video of the incident, Mr McConnell is heard being asked clearly by a reporter whether he planned to run for another six-year term beginning in 2027.
In the video, Mr McConnell asks the reporter to repeat the question, then stares at reporters as his words quietly trail off instead of responding clearly. He stands motionless for several seconds before an aide appears and repeats the question in his ear; he does not acknowledge her, and the aide then turns to the cameras, declaring, “I’m sorry, y’all, we need a minute.”
A previous episode played out almost exactly the same way. Flanked by his colleagues in the Senate Republican conference at a July presser, Mr McConnell appeared to freeze and become unable to respond to reporters’ questions before being led away by several fellow members.
The episodes are likely to only exacerbate concerns about his age and fitness for office in the next election cycle.
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