Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, was believed to have COVID-19 earlier this year, according to multiple people close to her.
Two friends of Barrett, who were granted anonymity because they did not feel comfortable discussing Barrett’s personal medical history on the record, confirmed to TIME that the judge had been sick in recent months and was thought to have contracted the virus. One said Barrett displayed mild symptoms and had quarantined. The other said she had received a positive test result.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Barrett had been diagnosed with the virus over the summer and had recovered, citing three officials familiar with the diagnosis.
The White House declined to comment. A member of Barrett’s family did not respond to a request for comment.
President Donald Trump said in the early morning hours Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus, a revelation that could have cascading political effects, including potentially on the timing of Barrett’s confirmation hearings. The news that Barrett had tested positive in recent months could be relevant to Barrett’s ongoing confirmation process if the judge has already had the virus and may be resistant to reinfection.
According to the White House, Barrett is tested daily for COVID-19, and tested negative on Oct. 2.
Republicans said in the aftermath of Trump’s announcement that they were preparing to proceed on schedule with Barrett’s confirmation, despite the fact that some of the key players involved may have been exposed in recent days.
“Just finished a great phone call with [President Donald Trump],” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted Friday morning. “He’s in good spirits and we talked business — especially how impressed Senators are with the qualifications of Judge Barrett. Full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve.”
Barrett’s hearings are slated to begin in the Judiciary Committee on Oct. 12. McConnell said earlier Friday that he hoped for Barrett to be cleared by the committee on October 22, but that the timing for a final vote by the full Senate remained up in the air.
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Trump’s disclosure of his COVID-19 diagnosis immediately raised questions about potential exposures for Barrett, who had stood besides Trump as he announced her nomination in the Rose Garden on September 26. Barrett spent much of this week meeting with Republican Senators.
Beyond the President’s own positive test, the number of cases in the West Wing—senior adviser Hope Hicks has also contracted the virus, the White House said—raised the potential of an outbreak in the Capitol that could impact Barrett’s hearings.Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a member of the Judiciary Committee who met with Barrett on Tuesday, said Friday that had tested positive.
There is a possibility that the judge’s confirmation hearings could be held remotely. One Republican aide working on the confirmation process noted that Senators have had the option of appearing remotely for hearings throughout the pandemic. Senate Democrats put out statement calling for a delay in Judiciary Committee hearings for the safety of everyone involved, and said the process shouldn’t be done virtually. Democratic aides have pointed out that hearings for two judicial nominees for the circuit court have been confirmed in person during the pandemic. “They haven’t done virtual for that, and those are not nearly as important,” says one Democratic aide.
With reporting by Alana Abramson/Washington
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