Washington —Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell shows “no evidence” that he suffered a seizure disorder, stroke or Parkinson’s disease during his two freezing episodes, the attending physician of Congress said Tuesday.
“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,” Dr. Brian Monahan wrote in a letter to McConnell that was released publicly, using the abbreviation for transient ischemic attack, or a mini stroke.
Monahan also said McConnell had a brain MRI, an EEG study — which detects abnormalities the electrical activity of the brain — and consultations with several neurologists.
McConnell experienced a second freezing episode in public last week while answering questions from reporters in Kentucky. The latest episode came about a month after McConnell stopped talking mid-sentence during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.
The episodes have brought growing scrutiny about the 81-year-old’s health. McConnell suffered a concussion in March after tripping at a Washington hotel and was hospitalized for several days. He then continued treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation facility before returning to the Senate.
After last week’s incident, a spokesperson for McConnell said he felt “momentarily lightheaded and paused” during the news conference. A similar explanation was given after the first incident.
“I know Sen. McConnell wants to be more transparent about this,” Republican Sen. John Cornyn told reporters Tuesday. “I’m glad that they were able to rule out some of the things that people had speculated might have happened.”
But not all Republicans were convinced of the diagnosis. Sen. Rand Paul, a physician, said blaming it on dehydration was “an inadequate explanation.”
“I practiced medicine for 25 years and it doesn’t look like dehydration,” said Paul Tuesday, noting that he doesn’t know McConnell’s medical history. “To me, it looks like a focal neurologic event. That doesn’t mean it’s incapacitating, doesn’t mean you can’t serve, but it means that somebody ought to wake up and say, ‘Wow, this looks like a seizure.'”
“With my medical background, this is not dehydration,” he said. “There’s something else going on.”
Monahan said last week that McConnell was “medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned” after consulting with the Republican leader and his neurological team.
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” he said last week.
And he told McConnell in this week’s letter, “There are no changes recommended in treatment protocols as you continue recovery from your March 2023.”
McConnell briefly mentioned the recent episode in remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon as the upper chamber returned from August recess.
“One particular moment of my time back home has received its fair share of attention in the press over the past week,” he said. “But I assure you, August was a busy and productive month for me and my staff back in the commonwealth.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin spoke with McConnell after the Republican leader’s remarks, telling him “it was great to see him back” and he “couldn’t wait to disagree with him.” Durbin later told reporters that McConnell said he’s “taken every test they’ve thrown at me.”
“He said that concussions can take its toll. ‘So I’m going through recovering from a concussion,'” Durbin said.
— Jack Turman and Jacqueline Kalil contributed to reporting.