The Capitol’s top doctor told Mitch McConnell on Tuesday that “there is no evidence” he suffered a stroke or has a seizure disorder following his public freeze in Kentucky last week.
Capitol physician Brian Monahan outlined extensive outside medical evaluations of McConnell after the episode, in which the Senate minority leader stopped talking for roughly 30 seconds in a media availability. In a letter to McConnell, Monahan recommended “no changes in treatment protocols” for his recovery from a March fall that left the Kentucky Republican with a concussion.
Monahan said in his letter that the GOP leader’s examination encompassed “brain MRI imaging, EEG study and consultations with several neurologists for a comprehensive neurology assessment. There is no evidence that you have a seizure disorder or that you experienced a stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease.”
In the course of those assessments, McConnell was assessed by four independent neurologists, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The new details come at a critical time for the GOP leader, as senators return to Washington on Tuesday from a long recess and McConnell prepares to face questions from his 49-member conference about his health. McConnell’s team has attributed his two public freezes — one in July and one in August — to lightheadedness, although Republicans have been hoping for more public information about his health.
Since his March fall, McConnell has also had some problems hearing questions from reporters at times. Allies say he remains sharps in party meetings, though some detractors privately contend he isn’t as active as he used to be.
McConnell is expected to attend to business as usual on Tuesday, when Senate GOP leaders are set to hold their regular meeting. Prior to that sitdown, McConnell had already conferred with many members of his leadership team since his latest freeze.
The full GOP conference will hold its first weekly lunch as a group on Wednesday; McConnell and his top leaders also generally hold a public press conference afterward.
In the meantime, there are still rumblings of a handful of GOP senators possibly forcing a special conference meeting to discuss McConnell’s health and the future of party leadership. It takes just five GOP senators to force such a discussion, although by midday Tuesday no final decision had been made.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that his staff has been talking to McConnell’s staff since the episode. Asked about his reaction to McConnell’s freeze in Kentucky, Schumer praised the selection of former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as ambassador to Israel.
Ursula Perano contributed.
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