McConnell says he hasn’t been to the White House recently because of its limited safety measures

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell obliquely criticized the lack of safety measures in place at the White House in response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying on Thursday that he has not visited the White House since early August.

“I haven’t actually been to the White House since August 6 because my impression was their approach to how to handle this is different from mine, and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” McConnell told reporters in a press conference in Kentucky Thursday. McConnell is frequently seen wearing a mask around the Capitol.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus last week. Several other White House officials have also tested positive, including adviser Stephen Miller and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

Multiple Republican senators visited the White House last month to attend the Rose Garden ceremony where Mr. Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. There was no social distancing at the ceremony, very few people wore masks, and there was also an indoor White House reception. Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, who attended the event, have since both tested positive. Vice President Mike Pence defended the event at the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, noting that it was outdoors and said many people at the ceremony were tested. He did not mention the indoor portion of the event — captured in part by New York Times photographer Doug Mills — which showed a number of people who were not practicing social distancing or wearing masks.

McConnell also told reporters Thursday that he frequently talks to Mr. Trump on the phone, and said that the president “seems normal,” based on their conversations.

“We talk a lot on the telephone. I think he’s perfectly fine; he seems normal,” McConnell said. He added that he and Mr. Trump have had “numerous discussions” about Barrett and the confirmation process. In a tweet last week, Mr. Trump urged McConnell to focus on confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court, rather than work on a coronavirus relief bill. Barrett is expected to appear on Capitol Hill to attend confirmation hearings next week.



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