Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not testify at an upcoming congressional hearing on the terrorist attack on U.S. embassy in Benghazi, after suffering a concussion from fainting and hitting her head.
Although State spokesman Philippe Reines did not say exactly when Secretary Clinton fainted, he did tell Politico the incident happened earlier this week. Dehydration was given as the reason for the incident, and Secretary Clinton was not hospitalized. She is now recovering at home and is under medical supervision.
The fainting spell follows Secretary Clinton’s cancelling of a Middle East tour last week, that included a ceremony marking official U.S. recognition of Syrian opposition forces. A stomach flu was the reason given for the cancellation.
It also means she will not be able to testify this coming week at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on who knew what about the September 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, which killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Secretary Clinton backed out of testifying in early November after putting off requests to do so by Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) for several weeks.
Secretary Clinton finally agreed to testify at the open hearings a few days later, after media focus questioned why she was stalling. Secretary Clinton agreed to speak at the hearings in early December.
While wishing Secretary Clinton best health, Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement that the committee has “tough questions about State Department threat assessments and decision-making on Benghazi” and insisted the secretary and others in the State Department “be held publicly accountable.”
Deputy secretary of state William Burns and Thomas Nides, the deputy secretary of state for management and resources, will take Secretary Clinton’s place at the hearing.
Ros-Lehtinen remained adamant that Secretary Clinton will have to testify eventually, reports the New York Times.
“Although I respect Bill and Tom, we still don’t have information from the Obama administration on what went so tragically wrong in Benghazi,” she said in a statement. “This requires a public appearance by the secretary of state herself.”