Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he hasn’t been to the White House in two months, citing a recent outbreak that infected President Donald Trump, the first lady, and other GOP officials with the CCP virus.
“I haven’t actually been to the White House since August the 6th,” he said in a news conference on Thursday in Kentucky. “My impression was that their approach to how to handle this is different from mine and what I suggested that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.” McConnell is often seen around the Capitol while wearing a mask.
He made similar comments earlier this week, as he was defending the Senate’s ability to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated by Trump to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, later this month.
“I do think there have been risky behaviors in other areas, but not in the Senate,” McConnell told Fox News. “And this nomination is now in the Senate. We know how to handle this. We’ve been dealing with this since May, and we’ll handle it successfully.”
Congress does not have rapid CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus testing, while the White House has the program.
Other than Trump, roughly two dozen people in his orbit have tested positive for the virus, including several GOP senators. They include Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the president of the University of Notre Dame, Rev. John Jenkins, and one unidentified journalist working at the White House.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, and Director of Oval Office operations Nick Luna also tested positive for COVID-19 since early October.
On Thursday, McConnell said that the best option was to wear a mask and practice social distancing until there is a vaccine.
“I think the message I have for everybody is … wear your mask and practice social distancing. It’s the only way we know of to prevent the spread until we get a vaccine,” he said.
The White House has not responded to a request for comment.
McConnell also said he often talks to Trump over the phone, adding the president “seems normal” after his diagnosis.
“We talk a lot on the telephone. I think he’s perfectly fine; he seems normal,” McConnell said.
In a post on Twitter last week, Trump called on McConnell to focus on confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court instead of focusing on a pandemic relief bill. But he later said he would support standalone bills for stimulus payments and airline relief.