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Attorney General Collapses, Rushed To Hospital

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Michael Mukasey was conscious and alert early Friday - and took a get-well call from President Bush - just hours after he collapsed during a speech to a black-tie dinner.

White House press secretary Dana Perino sent out word to
reporters that Bush telephoned his attorney general just before 7
a.m. EST Friday and said that Mukasey "sounded well and is getting
excellent care."

The 67-year-old retired federal judge, whom Bush brought in last
year to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was rushed to
George Washington University Hospital late Thursday after he paused
during his speech, started to slur his words and then collapsed.
Three or four men in suits rushed on stage and caught him at the
lectern.

It was not clear when the nation's chief law enforcer would be
released. He had been admitted overnight to the hospital for
observation after the incident in which he briefly lost
consciousness.

Justice Department spokesman Gina Talamona would not comment
when asked if Mukasey suffered a stroke. She had no information
about his medical history.

Mukasey opened his speech on terrorism with a wry remark about
expecting the mood at the conservative Federalist Society dinner to
be "somber or sober." He slumped over the podium about 15 minutes
later and could be seen swaying and shaking slightly just before he
collapsed.

"Oh, no, no!" people in the audience cried out as Mukasey
fell. "Oh, my God!"

Mukasey is Bush's third attorney general. The flinty but
measured New Yorker has said the job initially discouraged him, and
he has scaled back his public appearances in recent weeks.

A former prosecutor who saw Mukasey hours earlier described the
attorney general as tired-looking and drawn.

Justice spokesman Peter Carr said Mukasey did not transfer his
power to Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip.

"The attorney general is conscious, conversant and alert,"
Carr said after Mukasey was hospitalized. "His vital statistics
are strong and he is in good spirits."

Talamona said Mukasey's wife, Susan, was with him at the
hospital.

After collapsing, Mukasey lay on the stage for about 10 minutes
being attended to by his FBI security detail and medical personnel
at the dinner, said eyewitness Abigail Thernstrom, a senior fellow
at the Manhattan Institute. Though he lost consciousness initially,
Mukasey appeared to be awake when he was taken from the Marriott
Wardman Park Hotel in northwest Washington, she said.

"It was hard to watch such a thing," Thernstrom said. "It was
horrible."

A Republican staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jack
Daly, who was also at the dinner, said in an e-mail to colleagues
sent at 10:20 p.m. EST: "AG Mukasey collapsed in the middle of his
keynote address at tonight's fed-soc dinner. He is still on stage
after ten minutes and his security detail has called 911. The
paramedics just arrived."

Twenty minutes later, Daly added in another e-mail: "Mukasey
did regain consciousness before he was taken away."

Bush, scheduled to attend a weekend financial summit in Peru,
was quickly informed about Mukasey's collapse, Perino said.

She said, "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."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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