Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will return to the State Department next week after
three weeks of recovery from a stomach virus and a related concussion, The Cable has confirmed.
Clinton's ongoing recovery will still prevent her
from flying abroad, but will allow plans to move forward for her to testify in
open hearing on the Sept. 11 attack on Benghazi, testimony that she was
unable to give -- as per her doctor's orders -- on
Dec. 20. Her return to a public schedule could also end the weeks of conspiracy
theorizing and wild speculation about whether or not she was faking or
misrepresenting her illness to avoid testifying.
"The secretary continues to recuperate at home. She
had long planned to take this holiday week off, so she had no work schedule.
She looks forward to getting back to the office next week and resuming her
schedule," Clinton aide Philippe
Reines told The Cable.
Reines declined to say whether Clinton was at her
Washington home or her house in Chappaqua, New York, but he said she did spend
the holidays with her family. There's no definite schedule for her Benghazi
testimony, but she has pledged to appear before both House and Senate foreign
relations committees in January.
Since Dec. 9, when Clinton's stomach illness was
first disclosed as the reason she pulled out of a
planned trip to the Middle East and North Africa, a torrent of conservative pundits
and media outlets have suggested or outright
accused her of avoiding the public eye. Insinuations that
Clinton was faking or exacerbating her illness to avoid the Benghazi issue came
from the New York Post,
the Daily Caller,
on Fox News's
evening shows, Rep. Allen West
(R-FL), the conservative website Pajamas Media,
Business Daily website, conservative blogger Lucianne Goldberg,
Enquirer actually claimed that Clinton was suffering from brain
cancer. "Considering the source I can't believe we even
have to say this. But it's absolute nonsense," Reines said.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton became the highest-ranking former government official
accuse Clinton of faking her illness on Dec. 18.
"Every Foreign Service officer in every foreign
ministry in the world knows the phrase that I'm about to use. When you don't
want to go to a meeting or a conference or an event, you have a 'diplomatic
illness.' And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band," Bolton said.
"I certainly hope it's nothing serious, but this was
revealed in a way that I think that was not transparent, and I think there is
an obligation here, especially if Secretary Clinton decides to run for
president, to indicate what happened," Bolton said. "She may beat testifying
this week, but she's not going to escape it forever."
Bolton's accusation came three days after Clinton's doctors, Lisa Bardack of the Mt. Kisco Medical
Group and Gigi El-Bayoumi of the
George Washington University, issued a detailed statement about the secretary's
"Secretary Clinton developed a stomach virus,
leading to extreme dehydration, and subsequently fainted. Over the course
of this week we evaluated her and ultimately determined she had also sustained
a concussion. We recommended that the Secretary continue to rest and avoid any
strenuous activity, and strongly advised her to cancel all work events for the
coming week," they said.
But Bolton accused Clinton of a pattern of avoiding
the public that predated her illness and concussion. "The secretary has stayed
out of the limelight ever since the attack of Sept. 11," he said.
In fact, Clinton held
14 press availabilities and gave nine separate press interviews between Sept.
12 and Dec. 7, when she fell ill. She
also briefed the full House and the full Senate
Sept. 20 on Benghazi.
In an e-mail to The
Cable Thursday, Bolton explained that his comments on Clinton's illness
were meant to highlight the administration's lack of openness about her medical
"A fair listener would
understand that my central point was the lack of transparency about her
status," Bolton said. "Such a lack of transparency cannot be sustained in a
presidential campaign, for example, where observers might infer that her
condition was worse than it actually was. That's what I said, fair and
In addition to the Dec. 15 doctor's
statement, the State Department has issued four separate statements on
Clinton's health, on Dec. 9, 10, 15 and 19. Thursday's statement to The Cable marks the fifth time Clinton's
representatives have spoken on the record about her progress outside of the
State Department briefing room. In a background quote to ABC news Dec. 17, a
U.S. official went into even more detail.
"According to the
official, the secretary had two teams of doctors, including specialists,
examine her. They also ran tests to rule out more serious ailments beyond the
virus and the concussion. During the course of the week, Clinton was on an IV
drip and being monitored by a nurse, while also recovering from the pain caused
by the fall," ABC reported.
Top GOP lawmakers have rallied to
Clinton's defense. Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-SC) told The Cable that he
believes Clinton has been honest and forthright about her medical condition.
"I have no doubts that Secretary Clinton has been ill and
suffered a concussion. I know she will testify and statements to the
contrary are misplaced," said Graham.
In a press
conference last week, Graham said he wants Clinton to testify on Benghazi
before she steps down from office, but reiterated that her illness was real and
"To those who suggest that she's dodging her
responsibilities because she's not sick, I think that's inappropriate and not
true," Graham said. "I know she's sick now. I know she is not appearing because
she really is ill."
House Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL) acknowledged the veracity of Clinton's illness at her Dec. 20 hearing
and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also
backed Clinton up in a Dec. 19 Fox News
"I must say, I have never seen Secretary
Clinton back down from a fight. And I have never seen her back down. And I
believe that she is now not physically well enough to testify and she will
testify the middle of January," he said.
Outrage over the charge that Clinton has been misleading
the American public about her illness extends well past Washington. The NFL
Players Association, apparently concerned about the seeming trivialization of
similar injuries, felt compelled to weigh in and admonish those who would
downplay the secretary's ordeal.
"A concussion is a serious injury that should
not be discounted or belittled for political purposes," NFLPA Assistant
Executive Director George Atallah
said in a statement. "The Players Association has worked tirelessly not
only to address this problem at the professional level, but to educate the
general public about the risks to youths playing sports of all kinds. Efforts
to raise awareness and teach prevention are undermined whenever someone dismisses
the impact of a concussion. We must set a better example consistent with what
we know to be the medical truth."
KEVIN LAMARQUE/AFP/Getty Images