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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman October 14, 2020

Photo of Democratic senators huddling without masks is from 2018

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  • The photo wasn’t taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s from September 2018.

In the midst of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Republican Sen. John Cornyn accused a group of Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee of failing to wear masks.

Cornyn shared a photo on Oct. 14 that shows Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal and Cory Booker huddled together. The caption asks, "What’s missing in this photo?" Cornyn’s quote-retweet then added, "Masks?" 

The original tweet was posted about nine hours before Cornyn retweeted it.

Senate leaders have encouraged lawmakers to wear masks this year to combat the spread of COVID-19. But Cornyn’s suggestion that the senators’ masks are missing is misleading. The photo in the tweets wasn’t taken during the pandemic.

A reverse-image search shows that the photo is authentic, but it was taken in September 2018 by Getty photographer Mark Wilson during Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

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The image caption in the Getty archive reads: "Democratic senators Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R-RI), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) huddle as Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 4, 2018 in Washington, DC."

The original tweet was sent by Mary Ann Mendoza, a conservative activist who was abruptly pulled from speaking at the Republican National Convention after it was reported that she had shared an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on social media.

Cornyn deleted his tweet shortly after a journalist pointed out that the photo was not current.

We rate it False.

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Photo of Democratic senators huddling without masks is from 2018

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