Mitch McConnell didn't have a stroke while freezing on camera, Capitol Hill doctors say

Capitol treating physician Brian Monahan said in a new letter that Senate Republican Leader "Mitch McConnell did not have a stroke while freezing on camera, Capitol Hill doctors say."

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves his Washington, D.C., house to return to work at the U.S. Senate, less than a week after he froze for more than 30 seconds while speaking to reporters at an event in his home state of Kentucky, in Washington, D.C., Sept. 5, 2023. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst | Reuters)

The new letter, released by McConnell's office on Tuesday, comes after he went silent on camera for the second time in as many months, raising questions about whether the Republican leader can continue to maintain his strong position at the top of the Republican Conference in the Senate. After he froze last week in Covington, Kentucky, McConnell was evaluated by four neurologists, according to a person familiar with the matter.

There is no evidence Mitch McConnell suffered from seizure disorders or had a stroke, TIA, or movement disorder such as Parkinson's disease

Monahan said in his letter on Tuesday that he consulted with McConnell neurologists and conducted several evaluations, including MRI imaging of the brain and tests that measure electrical imaging in the brain.

"There is no evidence that you suffer from a seizure disorder or have had a stroke, TIA, or movement disorder such as Parkinson's disease," the letter reads.

Also, read: United States First Lady Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19.

McConnell in passing referred to her freezing episode, saying that "a particular moment when I returned home has received a lot of attention and the press over the past week."

"But I assure you, August has been a busy and productive month for me and my staff in the Commonwealth," he said in remarks on Tuesday. McConnell detailed an event he attended during the break, pausing to grab water.

Members of the Senate Republican leadership team brushed off concerns over McConnell's health as they attended a weekly meeting on Tuesday night.

McConnell is expected to discuss his health during a closed-door conference meeting with Republican senators on Wednesday, Texas Senator John Cornyn told CNN.

"I think he understands," Cornyn said of McConnell addressing the conference at lunch on Wednesday. "He understands, I think transparency is his friend and I think it eliminates a lot of speculation.

When asked by CNN if he supported McConnell to remain leader in the next Congress, Senate Republican John Thune said: "I don't even want to start speculating about it. But he has my full support and he will have the support of the conference." It remains unclear why McConnell froze for about 30 seconds each time he performed the act.

The Republican leader's office has attributed the two stalled moments to "lightheadedness," and Monahan has indicated in an earlier letter that it is "not uncommon" for concussion victims to feel dizzy. McConnell suffered a concussion and broken ribs after falling at a Washington hotel and hitting his head in March, keeping him absent from the Senate for nearly six weeks.

The note comes as the Senate returns to session on Tuesday after a five-week recess and as Republican senators are expected to face questions about whether they believe the Republican leader can continue to lead his conference as he has done for the past 16 years — longer than any other party. leader in the history of the Senate. McConnell is expected to continue serving as leader in this Congress, but there are growing questions about whether he will continue to serve in the next Congress, which begins in 2025.

Republican Senator Susan Collins said she spoke with McConnell the day after the recent freeze incident and felt that McConnell was "fully prepared" to handle his job.

"I didn't," the Maine Republican told CNN when asked if he had any concerns about McConnell's health. "I spoke with Chairman McConnell the day after the incident. He sounded fine. We spoke about the resumption of business this week and I feel he is fully prepared and capable of carrying out his duties."

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said even if McConnell had a 20-second "checkout" a day, he still did a "really good job" the rest of the time.

"The reality is we might think Mitch McConnell would checkout for 20 seconds a day, but the other 86,380 seconds a day, he did a really good job," he said.

But not all Republican senators were satisfied with McConnell's explanation. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul called the dehydration diagnosis an "inadequate explanation" and said his 25 years of medical experience told him it "doesn't look like dehydration."

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