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Mitch McConnell Says He's Not Going Anywhere

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was defiant on Wednesday, brushing off calls for him to step down as leader of his conference after he froze in front of reporters last week.

“I’m going to finish my term as leader and I’m going to finish my Senate term,” McConnell said at a packed weekly press conference on Capitol Hill.

McConnell offered no new details about his health condition and declined to say exactly what had afflicted him. He said he had “nothing to add” to a letter from the U.S. Capitol attending physician that cleared him to resume his duties in the upper chamber.

Brian Monahan, the attending physician, said in a note released by McConnell’s office earlier this week there is no evidence the 81-year-old senator experienced a stroke or has a seizure disorder following his second freeze-up in Kentucky last week.

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The doctor’s note appeared to satisfy the vast majority of the Senate Republican Conference, which expressed support for McConnell this week. But one GOP senator voiced skepticism about Monahan’s diagnosis.

“When you get dehydrated, you don’t have moments when your eyes look in the distance with a vacant look and you’re sort of basically unconscious with your eyes open,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is an ophthalmologist.

Paul said he wasn’t questioning whether McConnell is able to lead, but instead, the diagnosis itself: “It has nothing to do with his fitness to serve and whether he’s doing a good job or a bad job.”

Earlier on Wednesday, McConnell addressed his GOP colleagues behind closed doors about his health, telling them his cognitive ability is not impaired. The senator said he was given a “clean bill of health” by doctors, according to Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). McConnell also told his colleagues he has only experienced freezing episodes twice.

“I was satisfied,” Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said afterward.