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Mitch McConnell leaves press conference abruptly after appearing unable to speak

Senate Republican leader tells reporters he is ‘fine’ after returning moments later

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 26 July 2023 22:02 BST
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Moment Mitch McConnell freezes mid-press conference

Mitch McConnell appeared briefly unable to continue speaking and was escorted away from a Senate Republican press conference on Wednesday, before returning moments later.

The scene occurred as Republicans held their last weekly press briefing before the August recess, and discussed remaining business including the chamber’s effort to pass a defence spending bill before the holiday begins.

Mr McConnell was seen freezing at the podium for several seconds before a number of senators, including Joni Ernst of Iowa, approached him and encouraged him to step away.

He did so, only to come back a few minutes later, and refused to elaborate on what had just occurred.

“Can you address what happened here at the start of the press conference? Was it related to your injury from earlier this year when you suffered a concussion?” asked CNN’s Manu Raju.

“I’m fine,” responded the senator.

“You’re fine? You’re fully able to do your job?” Raju asked in response, to which the minority leader replied: “Yeah.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr McConnell’s office for further information about the episode.

The 81-year-old McConnell returned to the Senate in March after suffering a fall that caused a concussion. He also continues to walk with a limp, a residual issue caused by his battle with polio at a young age.

Mr McConnell’s freezing at the press conference is likely to be looked at with scrutiny given the renewed interest in the issues presented by the increasingly advanced ages of many of the members of the upper chamber of Congress. Sen Dianne Feinstein of California, in particular, has been the subject of intense criticism on the manner as many have argued that the senator, who often appears confused in interactions with reporters and staff, is no longer up to serving.

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