Did Sen. Shelley Moore Capito reach out and touch Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, somehow causing him to freeze midsentence while he was speaking during a July 26, 2023, news conference? No, that's not true: Capito, a Republican from West Virginia who was wearing a green suit, did not touch McConnell before the incident.
She joined the news conference gathering several seconds after McConnell had begun speaking. She slid in among a group of senators standing behind McConnell and was greeting Sens. John A. Barrasso of Wyoming, Steven Daines of Montana and John Thune of South Dakota. There was a small amount of cordial smiling conversation among the four. Capito, who was holding a pair of eyeglasses, coincidentally gestured with her hand, as did Daines, at the moment when McConnell's episode began.
The footage filmed from straight ahead does show Capito's hand appear to reach out toward McConnell's -- but her gesture was also recorded from another angle, which shows that Capito's hand actually passed behind McConnell. There was no touch.
The incident during the July 26, 2023, news conference, after the Senate Caucus Luncheon, was broadcast by C-SPAN and other networks. Concerns for McConnell's health were raised as news and footage of the unexplained freeze-up spread that afternoon -- some people were soon remarking about the timing of the gesture of the "lady in green" and McConnell's awkward silence (examples here on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter).
A post on Instagram was published by @knowledgegod13tv on July 27, 2023. The caption has 27 hashtags:
Senator Mitch McConnell freezes on live TV! Was he under a state of hypnosis or was he a clone they are controlling⁉️ #knowledgegod13tv #mitchmcconnell #peace #power #youtuber #blogger #wisdom #understanding #higherminds #higherthinking #thegods #conciousness #conciousbeing #northchicago #chicago #smart #elevation #powerful #simulationtheory #simulatedreality #trumanshow #government #conspiracy #conspiracytheorist #celebritycloning #clonewars #clone
The video had text captioning added in the black margins. It reads:
WATCH THE LADY IN THE GREEN! She taps his wrist twice!
After the first tap, he stutters, the 2nd tap was to confirm he was hypnotized😵💫
This is how the post appeared on Instagram at the time of writing:
There are several baseless suggestions for how Capito supposedly silenced McConnell or caused him (or a body double, cyborg or robot) to malfunction, not only by hypnosis. Some suggest it was a tap or poke, or that she was an "MK Ultra" handler who flipped a switch. Others suggested that Capito had palmed a hypodermic needle and stuck it in McConnell's hand, as depicted frame by frame in this July 31, 2023, post on X (pictured below and archived here).
Unedited footage of the news conference can be found on C-SPAN. McConnell begins his address to reporters by saying:
Good afternoon everyone. We are on a path to finishing the NDA this week, there has been good bipartisan cooperation, and a string of --
Immediately after he says the words, "string of ..." the Kentucky senator begins to falter. It is then, at 44 seconds in (pictured below), when Capito, still smiling and talking with the other senators behind McConnell, makes a small gesture with her left hand twice. She is holding a pair of eyeglasses in that hand; the lenses lie across her knuckles and the temples of the eyeglass frames are folded to the inside of her hand -- this is not a hypodermic needle. A still photo showing Capito holding the glasses after the incident also appears in the Getty image collection.
(Source: C-SPAN screenshot taken on Mon Jul 31 18:20:09 2023 UTC)
The senators present in this clip are identified below. The screenshots in the Lead Stories composite image below that each show the same moment in time from two different angles, just as Capito begins to swing her hand forward. The C-SPAN screenshot shows the moment at 44 seconds.
The CBS Evening News video (above) was posted on YouTube on July 27, 2023. This video has several clips edited together, and does not include the entirety of McConnell's silent spell. The clip from this camera angle is only three seconds long, but it includes the marker moment when McConnell says, "string of ..." just before he stops speaking. Although her hands are not visible in the frame (screenshot above from 36 seconds in) it is clear that Capito is not about to touch McConnell's right hand with her left hand. She never touches McConnell before he freezes.
When McConnell fell silent, seconds passed before the gravity of the situation became apparent to the people standing behind him. It is Sens. Barrasso from Wyoming, a physician, and Joni Ernst from Iowa who step forward to check on McConnell (at the 1:06 mark in the C-SPAN footage). McConnell retired to his office for several minutes, but rejoined the news conference (at 13:15 in the C-SPAN footage) to take some questions.