Posted By Josh Rogin Saturday, December 15, 2012 – 7:55 PM
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won’t testify to Congress next week on Benghazi, after fainting and suffering a concussion Saturday and due to her ongoing stomach ailment.
“While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines said in a statement. “She has been recovering at home and will continue to be monitored regularly by her doctors. At their recommendation, she will continue to work from home next week, staying in regular contact with Department and other officials. She is looking forward to being back in the office soon.”
Deputy Secretaries of State Bill Burns and Tom Nides will both testify in Clinton’s place, according to the office of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA).
“Secretary Clinton’s team contacted Senator Kerry this morning to inform them of the Secretary’s concussion. Senator Kerry was relieved to hear that the Secretary is on the mend, but he insisted that given her condition, she could not and should not appear on Thursday as previously planned, and that the nation’s best interests are served by the report and hearings proceeding as scheduled with senior officials appearing in her place,” said Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth in a statement.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) had already announced that Clinton would appear to talk about the result of the State Department’s own internal review of the events leading up to and during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. That review is being completed now by an Accountability Review Board (ARB) led by former Undersecretary of State Tom Pickering and including former Joint Chiefs Chairman ret. Adm. Mike Mullen.
But Dec. 13, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made it clear that Clinton could not yet confirm her attendance at the Dec. 20 hearing because the ARB was not yet completed. Moreover, the State Department is not agreeing to share the ARB’s report with Congress, only to be “transparent” about Clinton’s conclusions regarding the report.
Kerry is seen as the frontrunner to replace Clinton following U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s withdrawal from contention Dec. 13.