U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of President Donald Trump's most powerful allies in Washington, on Thursday said he has avoided visiting the White House - for months - because of its handling of the coronavirus.
“Well I’ve been following the advice of the CDC and the Capitol physician. I can tell you I haven’t been to the White House since August the 6th and I personally didn’t feel that they were approaching the protection from this illness in the same way that I thought was appropriate for the Senate.”
MConnell also told reporters that he has been consistently telling people to wear masks as they are quote - "the only way we know how to prevent the spread."
His remarks drew a sharp contrast with Trump, who was hospitalized for three days with the coronavirus but publicly removed his mask in front of TV cameras after returning to the White House.
First lady Melania Trump and several White House officials including spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany and adviser Stephen Miller have also tested positive for the disease.
Trump’s handling of his infection and the broader coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 211,000 Americans - more than in any other country - is threatening Republican hopes of keeping their Senate majority.
In his Nov. 3 election bid to retain his Senate seat, McConnell faces a long-shot challenge from Democrat Amy McGrath, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot.
In the Senate, lawmakers are encouraged to wear masks, practice social distancing and limit office visitors. Committee hearings are conducted partly online.
Three Republican senators have tested positive for COVID-19. Two were diagnosed after attending a crowded White House event for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Criticism of the Trump Administration from fellow Republicans has become a rarity in Washington.
But Thursday, the GOP leader of the Senate didn't hold back...
When talking about coronavirus safety measures he took a thinly veiled swipe at the White House, saying: “You’ve heard about other places that have had a different view and they are paying a price for it."