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the coronavirus crisis

Rep. Louie Gohmert aide suggests his staffers have been 'berated' for wearing masks

An aide to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is speaking out after the Texas Republican's coronavirus diagnosis.

Gohmert tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday after repeatedly refusing to wear a mask in Congress, as Politico previously reported, and he reportedly informed his staff of his diagnosis in person. Now, more details are emerging by way of an aide to Gohmert, who on Wednesday emailed Politico's Jake Sherman to reveal that the congressman "requires full staff to be in the office" despite the coronavirus pandemic "so that 'we could be an example to America on how to open up safely.'"

The anonymous aide went on to suggest that staffers in Gohmert's office have actually been discouraged from wearing masks, writing, "When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks."

Gohmert in a video statement on Wednesday claimed he has "worn a mask more the last week or two than I have in the whole last four months," but video showed him walking near Attorney General William Barr outside of a hearing on Tuesday with no mask on, and Barr is now set to receive a COVID-19 test. In his statement, Gohmert also baselessly floated the possibility that he could have contracted the virus from wearing a mask.

What the Gohmert aide describes may not be unusual on Capitol Hill, as Sherman reports that since publishing the aide's quotes, he's received "a flood of emails from Republican staffers who say they too are being forced to come to the Hill without a mask now."