Rep. Louie Gohmert — a Texas Republican who has been walking around the Capitol without a mask — has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gohmert was scheduled to fly to Texas on Wednesday morning with President Donald Trump and tested positive in a pre-screen at the White House. The eighth-term Republican told CNN last month that he was not wearing a mask because he was being tested regularly for the coronavirus.
The congressman said in a video statement that he blames masks for his illness.
“When I have a mask on, I’m moving it to make it comfortable, and I can’t help but wonder if that put some germs in the mask.”
Gohmert’s Democratic opponent for Texas’ first congressional district Hank Gilbert said in a statement that he sends his thoughts and prayers for Gohmert’s recovery.
“However, the fact that he still will not support the mask mandate of our own governor is truly disturbing,” Gilbert said.
“There are an awful lot of people that think it’s the great thing to do all the time, but I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, I really wonder if I would’ve gotten it,” Gohmert said. “I know moving the mask around, getting it just right, I’m bound to put some virus on the mask that I sucked in, that’s most likely what happened.”
Gohmert attended Tuesday’s blockbuster House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr in person, where lawmakers were seated at some distance from one another.
But footage from before the hearing shows Gohmert and Barr walking together in close contact, with neither wearing a mask.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Barr will be tested for coronavirus on Wednesday.
At one point in Tuesday’s hearing, Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) chastised several Republicans for taking off their masks, though Gohmert was not among those he scolded.
“I would remind Mr. Jordan, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Johnson to stop violating the rules of the committee,” Nadler said, referring to Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, three GOP lawmakers. “To stop violating the safety of the members of the committee. To stop holding themselves out as not caring by refusing to wear their masks.”
Reps. Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), and Tom Rice (R-S.C.) have also tested positive for the virus, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).