McConnell after Trump COVID-19 test: We’re keeping an eye on senators
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Friday that he doesn’t know if a senator has the coronavirus, but that they are “keeping an eye on” all senators after President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Well, we don’t know. But it can sneak on you as it obviously did the president and the first lady, so we’re being very careful and keeping an eye on everyone,” McConnell said during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Trump’s diagnosis immediately put a spotlight on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are not routinely tested.
McConnell said on Friday that he had not yet spoken with Trump but his positive diagnosis “underscores that the coronavirus is not concerned about the American election and that it not going away until we get a vaccine.”
Several Republican senators have been at the White House this week for the announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. Spokespeople for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about if Barrett will be, or has already, received a coronavirus test.
Barrett was also in the Capitol this week for three days to meet with roughly 30 senators. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Trump on Wednesday, and then subsequently met with McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The Treasury Department said on Friday that Mnuchin had tested negative.
McConnell gave no indication that he expects Trump’s coronavirus results, and the uncertainty about those who have been in close contact with him, to change the GOP’s schedule for trying to confirm Barrett.
McConnell reiterated on Friday that he expects the Judiciary Committee hearings to start on Oct. 12 and the committee to vote on Oct. 22.
“We will be voting on the nominee, you know, very soon. I haven’t picked an exact point to bring the nomination up, but it’s front and center for the American people and as we move ahead I’ll be more specific” about the timeline, McConnell said.
While McConnell indicated that he believes the confirmation process can move forward, he thinks senators should take precautions following Trump’s diagnosis, including potentially participating remotely.
“We can move forward. Our biggest enemy obviously is … the coronavirus, keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our job,” McConnell said.
“The members have, some of them, done their interviews in previous hearings remotely. This sort of underscores the need to do that. I think every precaution needs to be taken because we don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all … and therefore everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mindset,” McConnell added.