The State Department said Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify before Congress about security failures in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“She will testify while she is still sitting secretary of state,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said of Mrs. Clinton, who is slated to step down in the coming weeks, pending Senate confirmation of Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, as her replacement.
“She is 100 percent committed to having the smoothest possible transition, to helping him as much as possible, and she’ll be available as much as he needs her,” Mrs. Nuland said, adding that when Mrs. Clinton will testify on Benghazi is being arranged as the newly elected 113th Congress is just gearing up.
“We have a new Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” she said. “So we’re working now with the committee on scheduling of both the Benghazi hearing [and] the confirmation hearing, getting the sequence agreed with them.”
She said the committee would not return to session until after President Obama’s inauguration ceremonies on Jan. 21.
Mrs. Clinton was discharged last week from New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she spent four days under treatment for a blood clot inside her skull, discovered after a fall at her New York home. Doctors have said that the clot did not result in a stroke or neurological damage and that they expect her to recover fully.
The Associated Press reported that a crowd of about 75 State Department officials greeted Mrs. Clinton with a standing ovation as she walked into the first senior staff meeting she has convened since early December, according to those present. Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides, noting that life in Washington is often a “contact sport, sometimes even in your own home” then presented Mrs. Clinton with a gift — a regulation white Riddell football helmet emblazoned with the State Department seal, officials said.
She was also given a blue football jersey with “Clinton” and the number 112 — the record-breaking number of countries she has visited since becoming secretary of state — printed on the back.
Mrs. Clinton was slated to testify on Capitol Hill in late December after the release of an internal State Department report on the Benghazi attack that concluded senior department officials ignored intelligence and security warnings that might have prevented the attack.
She canceled the testimony after dehydration from a stomach virus, the virus that caused her to faint and hit her head, which subsequently led to the blood clot.
Mrs. Clinton has accepted blame for failures regarding the Benghazi attack, but the report prompted several Republican lawmakers to demand that she reschedule her testimony and answer more questions.
U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department official Sean Smith and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed in the attack.