WASHINGTON – Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the no-nonsense former federal judge who took over the Justice Department after Alberto Gonzales resigned in disgrace, collapsed during a speech Thursday night and lost consciousness.
The 67-year-old Mukasey was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where his condition was not immediately known.
Mukasey was delivering a speech to the Federalist Society at a Washington hotel when "he just started shaking and he collapsed," said Associate Attorney General Kevin O'Connor. "They're very concerned."
Later, a senior law enforcement official said Mukasey appeared to be talking when he was taken away. He was conscious during part of the ambulance ride to hospital, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation.
Mukasey, the nation's top law enforcement official, was 15 to 20 minutes into his speech about the Bush administration's successes in combatting terrorism when he began slurring his words. He collapsed and lost consciousness, said O'Connor, the department's No. 3 official, who was traveling at the time and was alerted to what had occurred.
Mukasey's was noticeably shaking during his speech before he collapsed shortly before 10:20 p.m. EST. His security detail called 911.
Mukasey was on the stage for 10 minutes being attended to by his FBI detail before medics arrived, according to a Justice Department official who was there. Mukasey was still breathing at the time, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the media.
An FBI official said Mukasey got stuck on a word during his speech to the conservative legal group, repeated it several times and then "went down hard."
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said President George W. Bush was informed about Mukasey's collapse.
"The president has him in his thoughts and will be kept apprised and hopes that he will be back up and at 'em again soon."
O'Connor said about hour after Mukasey collapsed that the last information he had was that the attorney general was alert and conscious and speaking.