Attorney General Michael Mukasey Collapses on Stage in DC

November 21, 2008 at 6:45 am Leave a comment

AG-mukasey-2.JPGAttorney General Michael Mukasey was conscious and alert early Friday — and took a get-well call from President Bush — just hours after he collapsed during a speech to a black-tie dinner.

White House press secretary Dana Perino
sent out word to reporters that Bush telephoned his attorney general
just before 7 a.m. EST Friday and said that Mukasey “sounded well and
is getting excellent care.”

The 67-year-old retired federal judge, whom Bush brought in last year to replace Alberto Gonzales, was rushed to George Washington University Hospital
late Thursday after he paused during his speech, started to slur his
words and then collapsed. Three or four men in suits rushed on stage
and caught him at the lectern.

It was
not clear when the nation’s chief law enforcer would be released. He
had been admitted overnight to the hospital for observation after the
incident in which he briefly lost consciousness.

Justice Department spokesman Gina Talamona would not comment when asked if Mukasey suffered a stroke. She had no information about his medical history.

Mukasey opened his speech on terrorism with a wry remark about expecting the mood at the conservative Federalist Society
dinner to be “somber or sober.” He slumped over the podium about 15
minutes later and could be seen swaying and shaking slightly just
before he collapsed.

“Oh, no, no!” people in the audience cried out as Mukasey fell. “Oh, my God!”

Mukasey
is Bush’s third attorney general. The flinty but measured New Yorker
has said the job initially discouraged him, and he has scaled back his
public appearances in recent weeks.

A former prosecutor who saw Mukasey hours earlier described the attorney general as tired-looking and drawn.

Justice spokesman Peter Carr said Mukasey did not transfer his power to Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip.

“The
attorney general is conscious, conversant and alert,” Carr said after
Mukasey was hospitalized. “His vital statistics are strong and he is in
good spirits.”

Talamona said Mukasey’s wife, Susan, was with him at the hospital.

After
collapsing, Mukasey lay on the stage for about 10 minutes being
attended to by his FBI security detail and medical personnel at the
dinner, said eyewitness Abigail Thernstrom, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Though he lost consciousness initially, Mukasey appeared to be awake when he was taken from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in northwest Washington, she said.

“It was hard to watch such a thing,” Thernstrom said. “It was horrible.”

A Republican staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Jack Daly, who was also at the dinner, said in an e-mail to colleagues
sent at 10:20 p.m. EST: “AG Mukasey collapsed in the middle of his
keynote address at tonight’s fed-soc dinner. He is still on stage after
ten minutes and his security detail has called 911. The paramedics just
arrived.”

Twenty minutes later, Daly added in another e-mail: “Mukasey did regain consciousness before he was taken away.”

Bush, scheduled to attend a weekend financial summit in Peru, was quickly informed about Mukasey’s collapse, Perino said.

She
said, “The president has him in his thoughts and will be kept apprised
and hopes that he will be back up and at ’em again soon.”

Source: AP

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