The White House plans to host a swearing-in ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettA politicized Supreme Court? That was the point Solid majority believes Supreme Court rulings based more on politics than law Locked and Loaded: Supreme Court is ready for a showdown on the Second Amendment 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 MeadowsMeadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - White House tackles how to vaccinate children ages 5+ Jan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt 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 ThomasA politicized Supreme Court? That was the point Locked and Loaded: Supreme Court is ready for a showdown on the Second Amendment Two conservatives resign from Biden's Supreme Court commission 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 TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift 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 FauciFauci says it's recommended to get same vaccine for COVID-19 boosters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Timken rolls out six-figure ad campaign, hits Fauci 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 TrumpMcCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral GOP leader's remarks on Fox underscore Trump's power White House orders release of Trump records to Jan. 6 committee MORE, ex-White House aide Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayEthics watchdog accuses Psaki of violating Hatch Act Biden administration competency doubts increase Cook Political Report shifts Virginia governor's race to 'toss-up' MORE, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Retreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden MORE (R-N.C.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieWhat New Jersey's gubernatorial contest tells us about the political landscape Christie: 2020 Joe Biden 'is now officially dead and buried' Christie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group 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.