After Amy Coney Barrett’s almost assured confirmation Monday evening, Justice Clarence Thomas is on the docket to swear in the 7th Circuit appellate judge to the Supreme Court at a White House ceremony.
‘Justice Clarence Thomas will administer the official Constitutional Oath to Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House tonight,’ a senior White House official told The New York Times.
The vote on Barrett’s nomination is set to take place some around 7:26 p.m. Monday evening, according to Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, and the White House is prepared to hold a ‘large’ celebration in the Rose Garden honoring the momentous occasion just one week before Election Day.
Although a source told Politico that the guest list for the South Lawn event is on the longer side, Trump suggested the event is smaller than it was being made out in the media.
As an overweight 72-year-old, Thomas is at a higher risk of dying or having severe adverse symptoms if he were to contract coronavirus.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sought to assure reporters Monday that the Rose Garden ceremony would include safety precautions, but he did not say whether face coverings would be required.
‘We’re doing tonight the best we can to encourage as much social distancing as possible,’ he said.
The plans have set off alarm bells as it sounds eerily similar to the Rose Garden event last month when Trump announced Barrett’s nomination, inviting a whole crowd of aides, advisers, lawmakers and supporters to witness the occasion.
That event sparked a White House outbreak of COVID-19, which infected the president, first lady Melania and their son Barron, as well as about a dozen others within Trump’s inner circle.
As the vote isn’t expected until later Monday, one White House official suggested that the celebration and swearing in might be pushed to Tuesday.
Pence announced earlier Monday that he is ditching his plans to attend the Senate vote confirming Barrett after Democrats demanded he steer clear of the Capitol as five of his aides tested positive for coronavirus.
‘Vice President Pence is campaigning in Minnesota today. The VP is not planning to be at the Senate tonight unless his vote is needed,’ an aide to the vice president said.
The White House, however, is still looking to hold a Rose Garden celebration with a ceremonial swearing in of Barrett either Monday or Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on the tarmac at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania on Monday, President Donald Trump assured the celebration would be a rather small, ‘very nice event.’
Despite the vice president’s absence, the vote is still expected to move easily through the Senate as Republicans have enough votes to confirm Barrett without Pence needing to break a tie.
Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short, ‘body man’ Zach Bauer, Advisor Marty Obst and two other aides tested positive for COVID-19. The vice president and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative on Sunday.
Democrats pleaded Sunday that Pence not to come to the Capitol to fulfil his largely ceremonial role, as is customary for vice presidents in landmark votes, claiming in a letter ‘it’s not a risk worth taking.’
With little Democrats can do to stop the confirmation from going forward, the White House has already started planning its celebration – similar to the ‘superspreader’ event announcing Barrett’s nomination at the end of September, which sparked a COVID-19 outbreak at the White House.
This event caused President Donald Trump, first lady Melania and their son Barron, along with a slew of aides, advisers and GOP lawmakers, to contract the virus.
The next event, which is not yet set in stone, would be held outdoors in the Rose Garden Monday night and include a ceremonial swearing in of Barrett to the Supreme Court.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Katelyn Caralle