During a leadership press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Leader from Kentucky, experienced a brief moment of disorientation, lasting nearly 20 seconds. This unexpected pause in his address triggered whispers of worry from his fellow politicians and the press in attendance.
McConnell was discussing the Senate’s ongoing progress with the annual defense authorization bill, commending what he referred to as “excellent cross-party cooperation,” when he abruptly stopped talking mid-sentence, staring ahead without saying a word.
This unforeseen and somewhat frightening incident led several of his leadership team members to check on his condition.
Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairwoman Joni Ernst from Iowa, touching the back of his arm, inquired, “Are you alright, Mitch?”
Similarly, Senate Republican Conference Committee Chairman John Barrasso from Wyoming, who is also a physician, touching McConnell’s forearm, asked, “Are you okay, Mitch? Is there anything else you wish to express?”
Barrasso then suggested they return to McConnell’s office, saying, “Let’s return to your office. Is there anything else you want to share with the media? Let’s go.”
However, McConnell seemed hesitant to depart from the press briefing.
Following this, Barrasso exchanged a few words with one of McConnell’s assistants, and then accompanied the Republican leader back to his office.
81-year-old McConnell made a return to the press conference before his leadership colleagues concluded their statements. As is his typical routine, he fielded the first question from journalists.
When CNN’s Manu Raju questioned McConnell about the occurrence and if it had any relation to health issues from a concussion he had sustained earlier, McConnell responded, “No, I’m okay.”
Upon further inquiry about his capacity to fulfill his role, McConnell simply affirmed, “Yes.”
He then proceeded to respond to questions from the media regarding a dissolving plea agreement involving federal prosecutors and Hunter Biden, the potential for impeachment proceedings in the House, and the schedule for the consideration of the annual appropriations bills.
A McConnell aide later mentioned that the Republican leader had experienced a moment of dizziness and had momentarily excused himself. “He resumed the Q&A session, demonstrating sharpness in his responses,” the aide further noted.
McConnell had previously been hospitalized following a fall at a private dinner on March 9 at the Waldorf Astoria, where he suffered a concussion. He was released from the hospital after a few days and underwent in-patient rehabilitation. McConnell returned to his home on March 25 to continue his rehabilitation and was back on duty at the Capitol by April 17.