No one has seen any video of Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), 53, speaking or moving since he was admitted to the psych ward at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on February 15, allegedly for treatment of severe clinical depression. Since then, Fetterman’s staff and wife Gisele have only released a handful of staged photos that show he is alive and at least somewhat cognizant. No one except for his wife and a few of his senior staff members claim to have spoken with Fetterman, but they have not provided proof.
A photo released by Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson on March 6 shows Fetterman allegedly being briefed on Senate business, however Fetterman is not wearing his reading glasses, nor is he using his usual audio transcription device to aid his stroke damaged hearing.
The latest photo of Fetterman was posted a week ago by Gisele showing the couple outdoors at Walter Reed. Gisele also posted a photo of herself in pajamas at Walter Reed, presumably wanting the world to know she spent the night with her husband–better than Canada.
🌺 grateful for 1️⃣ flowers blooming 2️⃣the 🚒 balloon João found at the NEX 3️⃣ normalized conversations around mental health 4️⃣ growing and learning – together. Blooming flowers always hope. pic.twitter.com/3EuEpnUuSi
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) March 17, 2023
Fetterman spokesman Joe Calvello told the Associated Press on Thursday the senator is not expected to be released for at least another week, but no target date has been set. The AP also quoted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) commenting on Fetterman’s extended absence (excerpt):
Asked about when Fetterman might return, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said only that Fetterman is recuperating.
“We want to give him the space to recuperate,” Schumer said at a Wednesday news conference. “He needs it, it’s fair, it’s right. There are other people in the Senate who have taken their time to recuperate but I’m confident he’s going to come back and be an outstanding and fine senator.”
A spokesperson said Fetterman is getting better and that the recovery is going well.
“He’ll be back soon, at least over a week, but soon,” spokesperson Joe Calvello said Thursday.
The AP also quoted fellow Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D) saying he has not spoken with Fetterman:
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in an interview that he has purposely not called Fetterman to talk — “the last thing he needs is a lot of phone calls,” Casey said — and does not know when Fetterman will return.
Casey said his sense from Fetterman’s staff is that Fetterman has made “good progress.”
In contrast to the incommunicado Fetterman, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 81, has been speaking to his Republican colleagues since he went to rehab March 13 following a short hospital stay for a concussion and broken rib suffered in a recent fall, however no photos or video of McConnell have been released.
NBC News reported Tuesday on McConnell (excerpt):
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said he spoke to McConnell on the phone for about five minutes Tuesday, saying he “sounded good, sounded like Mitch, this morning. … He’s anxious to get back.”
…Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who previously served in leadership with McConnell, said he also spoke with McConnell on the phone Tuesday. “I talked to him today. He’s doing better and is eager to come back,” Cornyn said.
…“I’ve talked to him on text. He said he’s getting better and getting stronger. That was pretty much it,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Tuesday. “He said he’s getting stronger and better, and ‘be back soon’ is what he said to me.”
Also MIA is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 89, who was hospitalized three weeks ago for shingles and has been convalescing at home since being discharged.
Politico reported this week that the last time the Senate was attended by all 100 members was August 7, 2022. Democrats hold a slim 51-49 majority with the help of three independents.
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While the Senate is used to lengthy absences from senators, it is rare for a freshman senator to completely breakdown weeks after being sworn in as happened with Fetterman.
Fetterman’s campaign donor doctor issued a statement last October in the run-up to the election that he was fit to serve. Just six weeks into his term Fetterman was admitted to the psych ward because he had become a danger to himself, not feeding or hydrating himself to the point he had to be hospitalized the week before for “lightheadedness”. Photos taken two months apart show Fetterman’s rapid deterioration.
John Fetterman side by side. January 3 photo by Jon Cherry/Reuters. March 6 by Fetterman Senate staff. pic.twitter.com/TMVWjOuyTm
— Kristinn Taylor (@KristinnFR) March 6, 2023
Fetterman’s staff and his wife have lied about and downplayed his health issues since before his stroke last May. They failed to disclose he suffered from a diseased heart (which caused the debilitating stroke) and lifelong depression. After the stroke they downplayed the seriousness until the late October debate. The doctor letter was a flat out lie. And when he was first hospitalized they failed to disclose he had been referred for treatment of severe clinical depression. It was only when he was admitted to the psych ward that they came clean on that. But six weeks on without any video of Fetterman speaking or moving or no timeline of his discharge, it appears Gisele and his staff are still in cover-up mode.