The news reports on whether or not Secretary Clinton will testify at the HFAC and SFRC on December 20 as previously announced continued over the weekend with its twists and turns.
The scheduled date was announced a week before last week.
Spokesperson Toria Nuland on December 13 suggested that the ARB report on which Secretary Clinton’s testimony will be based might not be ready on time.
On December 14, the Acting Deputy Spokesman said that “The committees have announced the secretary will be on the Hill next Thursday, and so that’s the plan. […] We’ve been cooperating with Congress extensively and will continue to do so.”
Less than 24 hours later, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines released a media statement on December 15 saying that “Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion. 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.”
On December 15, Senator Kerry’s spokeswoman said that the senator “insisted that given her condition, she could not and should not appear” as planned.
Also on December 15, 3:22 pm EST, The Hill reported that Secretary Clinton’s deputies Thomas Nides and Bill Burns will now will testify in her place.
Deputy Secretary William J. Burns serves as the principal deputy, adviser, and alter ego to the Secretary of State; also serves as Acting Secretary of State when called upon. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas R. Nides serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Department. He also serves as principal adviser to the Secretary on overall supervision and direction of resource allocation and management activities of the Department. The Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources assists in carrying out the Secretary’s authority and responsibility for the overall direction, coordination and supervision of operational programs of the State Department, including foreign aid and civilian response programs.
As far as we are aware, this is the first time somebody higher than the under secretary of management is representing the State Department on the Benghazi hearings.
If Nides/Burns are expected to testify on the Secretary’s response to the ARB report on Thursday, that means the Pickering/Mullen appearance could not be later than Wednesday. That gives us this weekend, and Monday or Tuesday as the completion date for the ARB report. And probably 48 hours for the State Department to formulate the Secretary’s report to the Congress on each such recommendation and the action taken or intended to be taken with respect to the ARB recommendations.
Not a lot of time. Whoever is writing/editing the Secretary’s report will have little sleep until this is done.
Obviously, a decision can be made to have Secretary Clinton testify the week after Christmas week, or as soon as Congress returns early next year, when she has fully recovered. She’s got 90 days to submit her report to the Congress anyway. And if they could wait this long, this could wait a couple or so more weeks … we wouldn’t mind waiting.
Except that with the two deputies now up for the hearings, we can’t really expect that she will be called again in the near future to testify about the exact same thing, can we?