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Mitch McConnell escorted away from press conference: What we know

Aug 22, 2023Aug 22, 2023

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was escorted away from a lectern by Republican colleagues during a Wednesday press conference after taking an unusually long pause.

The GOP leader was giving an opening statement during a press conference when he abruptly stopped speaking and stood silently for several seconds.

McConnell appeared to be unable to start talking again as other senators helped him move away from the lectern.

This episode comes after he was hospitalized in March for a concussion he suffered from a fall at a hotel in Washington.

When the GOP leader returned to the lectern a reporter asked if he would address what happened and if it was related to his previous injury.“No, I’m fine,” McConnell said.

When asked if he was able to able do his job, the senator, first elected in 1984, said yes.

Asked about McConnell's health and the incident, an aide told The Courier Journal that "he felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment," adding that he came back to answer several questions from the press, "which as everyone observed was sharp."

After McConnell returned to the presser, he answered four questions about Hunter Biden's plea deal, the possibility of the House impeaching President Biden, Alabama redistricting and the Senate appropriations bill without incident.

When asked if he has anyone in mind to replace him when he is no longer the leader of the GOP conference, McConnell smiled and laughed as he walked away, without answering.

Later that evening, McConnell told reporters President Biden “called to check up on me and I told him I got sandbagged.” Asked how he was feeling and if he had seen a doctor since the incident, he only answered again with “I’m fine.”

The “sandbagged” line was likely a reference to when Biden tripped over a sandbag and fell at a June graduation ceremony, who later joked to reporters: “I got sandbagged!"

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This story will be updated.

Courier Journal reporter Joe Sonka contributed to this report.

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