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 BarrettPolitical peace starts with everyday interactions A Day in Photos: The Biden Inauguration Schumer and McConnell trade places, but icy relationship holds 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 MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Trump leaves White House, promises to be back in 'some form' LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing 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."


A senior White House official said that Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasLIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing Trump eyes lawyer who spoke at rally to help in impeachment trial: report Biden's identity politics do a disservice to his nominees 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 TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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.


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 FauciAstraZeneca vaccine distribution begins in Brazil Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus 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 TrumpScorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE, ex-White House aide Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayGeorge Conway: Trump's 'influence will wane as he fades into history as a pariah' Pence's relationship with Trump fractures in final days Kellyanne Conway condemns violence, supports Trump in statement on Capitol riots MORE, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief The Hill's 12:30 Report: Next steps in the Trump impeachment MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Democrats see Georgia as model for success across South MORE (R-N.C.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieSenator releases photos of man wanted in connection with Capitol riot Press: Only one week left, why impeach him twice? The Hill's Morning Report - House to impeach Trump this week 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.