OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A report on Wednesday claimed that Sen. John Fetterman is slated to return to the chamber next month after the Pennsylvania Democrat finishes his treatment for clinical depression.
POLITICO notes that “Fetterman plans to return to the Senate the week of April 17 after more than a month of inpatient treatment for depression, according to two people with direct knowledge of his plan.”
Fetterman was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in mid-February for treatment. His return will likely be a relief for Senate Democrats, who hold a narrow majority and have faced challenges managing absences over the past month, the outlet reported.
While the exact date of Fetterman’s release from the hospital is unclear, a source close to him has confirmed that he will resume his Senate duties after the upcoming two-week April recess. Fetterman is among several senators who have been absent from the Senate recently, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who have both missed substantial amounts of time. McConnell was recently discharged from physical therapy for a concussion and minor rib fracture, POLITICO noted.
“But Fetterman’s situation has been different. The six-foot-eight, bald-headed and tattooed freshman has been open about his mental health challenges and the need to seek help,” the outlet continued.
Earlier this week, another photo of Fetterman went viral as he continued his treatment. Fetterman was finally seen in public roughly five weeks after he was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center.
Fetterman’s release from the hospital on Friday was accompanied by photos shared by his staff. However, one particular photo that circulated on social media raised doubts about the senator’s condition, with Newsweek reporting that some people were floating a “body double” conspiracy.
“The image, provided by the Fetterman campaign, can be seen in an article published on the website of NPR station WESA on the same day. It shows Fetterman and his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, posing and smiling as they leave the hospital,” Newsweek noted, adding:
The photo of the supposedly “fake” Fetterman being taken last year raises questions about the timeline of the conspiracy. The conspiracy theorists do not appear to be claiming that anything is awry with photos of Fetterman taken before or after May 22, 2022.
For the theory to be true, the supposed “replacement” Fetterman would have briefly appeared in May of last year, only to be replaced by the actual Fetterman after the photo was taken. It is unclear what purpose that would serve.
Nevertheless, Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault, opined on Twitter: “I think a DNA sample is in order, here. LOL. That’s not Fetterman on the right.”
I think a DNA sample is in order, here. LOL. That’s not Fetterman on the right. pic.twitter.com/FpcS2FLK0m
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) March 24, 2023
Author Brigitte Gabriel noted as well: “I’m not one to push conspiracy theories, but John Fetterman’s face looks totally different.”
“They literally replaced Fetterman, this is insane,” Attorney Jason Roberge offered.
They literally replaced fetterman, this is insane https://t.co/UkTBhQcKov
— Jason Roberge (@JasonRobergeVA) March 24, 2023
The photo on the right, however, is from last year after Fetterman’s treatment for a stroke.
It was taken as he and his wife, Gisele Fetterman, were leaving the hospital, a video of which she posted to her own Twitter. There’s no evidence that the newly released photos of Sen. Fetterman are fake or of someone else, as some users have suggested.
João is headed home ❤️ time to rest and recover (and annoy me)!
I’m so grateful for the amazing staff at Lancaster General for taking such good care of him from start to finish. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cAzFY8ojQe
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) May 22, 2022
Earlier this month, the very first photos of Fetterman after he entered Walter Reed Medical Center for clinical depression were released, which drew quick responses from several observers.
Some dismissed the photos as “staged,” while others noticed that Fetterman seemed gaunt, hollow, and even frail despite his 6′ 9″ frame.
“Productive morning with Senator Fetterman at Walter Reed discussing the rail safety legislation, Farm Bill, and other Senate business. John is well on his way to recovery and wanted me to say how grateful he is for all the well wishes. He’s laser-focused on PA & will be back soon,” noted Fetterman’s chief of staff, Adam Jentleson on Twitter in a post containing several photos of the Pennsylvania Democrat.
Productive morning with Senator Fetterman at Walter Reed discussing the rail safety legislation, Farm Bill and other Senate business. John is well on his way to recovery and wanted me to say how grateful he is for all the well wishes. He’s laser focused on PA & will be back soon. pic.twitter.com/143uAhoQRx
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) March 6, 2023