Updated at 4:45 p.m.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey appeared weak and faltering during a public appearance at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning, calling to mind a public fainting episode he had during his tenure in 2008.
He was hospitalized for tests and has been released. Late Thursday afternoon, his son Marc, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, said, "Dad is fine."
The Thursday event, a preview of the upcoming Supreme Court term, was halted briefly and Mukasey was escorted out, shaky but on his own power. Kate Todd, vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, said Mukasey "was not feeling very well," and the session resumed. The discussion took place in the chamber's D.C. headquarters not far from the White House.
Mukasey, 72, also a former federal judge, is a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York.
Before the Thursday morning event began Mukasey, who was seated, appeared to doze off. When he was called to speak, he seemed alert as he began to read from prepared remarks. But after a few minutes, he slumped again and was slurring his words. That is when the event was suspended.
The 2008 episode was described as a fainting spell, and the next day Mukasey emailed the entire Justice Department staff to reassure them that he was okay. Appointed by President George W. Bush, Mukasey served as attorney general from 2007 until 2009 when he was succeeded by Eric Holder Jr.
After this morning's episode, Peter Keisler of Sidley Austin picked up where Mukasey left off, summarizing some of the top business cases facing the Supreme Court in the new term that begins October 7. The chamber's Todd said 28 of the cases the court has agreed to hear so far are business-related, including 10 in which the chamber has filed briefs or is representing a party.
SECOND UPDATE: A statement from Judge Mukasey's law firm issued shortly after 1:30 pm updated his status: ““Judge Mukasey has been released from the hospital, and we are pleased to report that he is in good health and doing well. He plans to return to the office tomorrow.”
THIRD UPDATE: Mukasey's son Marc, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani in New York, gave The National Law Journal this report at 4:30 p.m.: "Dad is fine. Between running his law practice, defending the constitutionality of stop and frisk, continuing to speak out on the importance of fighting terrorism and being a grandpa, he probably needed a 20-second timeout. He's good to go now."