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White House to host swearing-in event for Barrett on Monday night

The White House plans to host a swearing-in ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report MORE on Monday night following her expected confirmation, despite concerns that a gathering for her nomination in September was a super-spreader event for the coronavirus.

White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE told reporters on Monday that if Barrett is confirmed by the Senate later in the day, "then we expect for a swearing-in to happen later this evening if all goes well."

"We’re doing ... the best we can to encourage as much social distancing as possible. It’ll be outdoors if it goes off as planned right now," Meadows said. "And still continue to do testing in and around those that are critical to the mission to try to get there."

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A senior White House official said that Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasDefusing the judicial confirmation process Will the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? The overlooked significance Kamala Harris brought to the Biden-Harris ticket MORE would administer the official constitutional oath to Barrett at the White House event Monday evening. 

Meadows brushed aside criticism that the ceremony would be a repeat of the late September Rose Garden event for Barrett by arguing that other factors may have contributed to the White House outbreak.

"The very first event, while there’s a whole lot of connects that have been made with who was at the event and who came down with it, we’ve been able to look at that and track as many as three different areas where the virus actually infected different people within the White House," Meadows said. "So it didn’t all come from that particular event."

The Senate is expected to vote to confirm Barrett in a party-line vote Monday evening. Vice President Pence, who is facing an outbreak of coronavirus cases within his own staff, is expected to preside over the vote.

The Barrett confirmation marks a significant political win for President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE and Republicans, as it will be the president's third justice confirmed to the court and will solidify a conservative majority on it for years to come. Administration officials are hopeful that the confirmation will buoy support for GOP senators ahead of Election Day as well.

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But the optics of holding an in-person swearing-in are sure to generate intense criticism. The White House hosted dozens of guests in the Rose Garden followed by an indoor reception on Sept. 26 when Trump nominated Barrett. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciKamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Overnight Health Care: Biden team to begin getting COVID briefings | Fauci says he would 'absolutely' serve on Biden's COVID task force | Major glove factories close after thousands test positive for COVID-19 Fauci says he would 'absolutely' serve on a Biden coronavirus task force MORE, the government's top infectious diseases expert, later deemed it a super-spreader event.

Among the guests who later tested positive for the virus were Trump, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony MORE, ex-White House aide Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration Lara Trump mulling 2022 Senate run in North Carolina: report Press: Where is Jim Baker when we need him? MORE, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNorth Carolina — still purple but up for grabs Team Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (R-N.C.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin Biden moves forward as GOP breaks with Trump rise MORE (R).

But the president and White House staff have repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus even as cases surge around the country. Meadows on Sunday dismissed the possibility of controlling the virus, instead saying the focus should be on developing vaccines and treatments.

Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report, which was updated at 4 p.m.