(Headline USA) The handlers responsible for cognitively impaired Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., once again avoided questions about his return to the U.S. Senate as even the mainstream media begins to wonder if they are being forthright.
Meanwhile, some conservatives have begun to question whether Fetterman is alive at all.
Questions about Fetterman’s status exploded in late February as rumors spread via social media that he might be clinically braindead and that his staff was attempting to forestall an announcement until after an August deadline had passed, allowing the state’s far-left governor to avoid calling a special election.
Despite the gravity of the concerns, the Fetterman camp—which actively lied about his health conditions throughout the 2022 campaign—remained characteristically evasive, even blocking journalists who inquired about it on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
But with outlets like the Associated Press now seeking answers, they were finally obliged to field questions while remaining noncommittal about anything that would require actual proof of life.
Fetterman’s office claimed Thursday that he is expected to return soon to the chamber, although Democratic leaders are giving no timeline five weeks after he ostensibly sought inpatient treatment for clinical depression.
Fetterman, 53, was weeks into his service in Washington and still recovering from the aftereffects of the stroke he had last May during his campaign when he checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Feb. 15.
Aides said at the time that Fetterman had not been his usual self for weeks. He was withdrawn, showing a disinterest in talking, eating and the usual banter.
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.”
There is no evidence that any senator has ever taken an extensive leave of absence due to a supposed mental disorder.
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.”
“I’m just happy he’s getting the time that he needs and most people understand that these things don’t occur over two or three weeks, it takes a little longer,” Casey said.
A spokesperson claimed 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.
Calvello claimed Fetterman is receiving daily in-person briefings by chief of staff Adam Jentleson.
The senator is reading the news and getting briefings, he said, while issuing statements through his office and even sponsoring legislation. Aides are opening new regional offices in Pennsylvania.
After Fetterman checked in to Walter Reed, his office admitted he had experienced depression “off and on throughout his life,” but it had only become severe in recent weeks.
The Capitol physician, Brian P. Monahan, recommended Fetterman’s hospitalization after conducting an evaluation, his office said then.
In the meantime, Fetterman’s aides and his wife, Gisele, have released photos of the senator smiling, being briefed or visiting with her and their three school-age children.
Fetterman had the stroke last May as he was campaigning in a three-way Democratic primary race. The stroke nearly killed him, he has said, and he had surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to manage two heart conditions, atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy.
Leftist media steadfastly circled the wagons for him during his campaign, decrying any questions about his condition first as disinformation and later as ableist bigotry when it became clear in an October debate that he was cognitively impaired.
At that point, many of the state’s mail-in ballots already had been returned, enabling him to beat GOP nominee Mehmet Oz in November in the campaign cycle’s most expensive race. Fetterman’s victory boosted Democrats to a 51-49 majority.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press
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