Clinton returns to work following hospital stay

Rachel Rose Hartman
January 7, 2013

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to work Monday for the first time since falling ill one month ago.

And there was a little protective headgear waiting for her.

Seventy-five department staff celebrated her return by presenting her with a white football helmet decorated with the State Department seal, and a blue football jersey marked "Clinton" with the number 112: the record-breaking number of countries she has visited as secretary.

“As you know, Washington is a contact sport," Deputy Secretary Tom Nides said as he presented the gift.

But then it was down to business.

Clinton kicked off her workday by holding a meeting with the assistant secretaries of state, her deputies and other staff. The department released photos of Clinton seated at the head of a long table filled with staff (as well as photos of Clinton opening gifts).

On Dec. 7, Clinton became dehydrated due to a stomach virus, and fell and hit her head, suffering a concussion. She was later hospitalized for a blood clot in her head and released Jan. 2.

Prior to her hospitalization, Clinton was accused by some conservatives—including former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton—of faking her illness to avoid testifying on the politically charged issue of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The administration has been criticized by Republicans and others for how the attack was reported to the public, and whether consulate security prior to the attack was adequate.

Clinton's staff confirmed Monday that Clinton does expect to testify before she leaves her post.

"She will testify while she is still sitting secretary of state," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a briefing on Monday. Nuland added that Clinton's office is working on the scheduling, but noted that Congress is out of session until after the presidential inauguration, "so it obviously couldn’t be before then. But I don’t yet have dates to announce. You might talk to the [Foreign Affairs] committee, too, but we’re continuing to work on that."

The president last month selected Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as Clinton's replacement. Select Senate Republicans have threatened to block Kerry's confirmation until Clinton testifies.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the lawmakers threatening to hold up Kerry's confirmation, said on Fox News Sunday Dec. 30 that Clinton will testify before Kerry takes office and that Kerry "wants that approach also."

Graham noted that "he needs to hear what she says so he can make comments about 'I agree with her,' 'I don't agree with her.' It makes sense to have her go first."