I posted about Mme. Secretary’s return to work earlier today, but I thought some might find this snip from today’s press briefing interesting.
12:35 p.m. EST
MS. NULAND: Happy Monday, everybody. It is a great day here in the Department. As you saw, Secretary Clinton is back to work. And if you got a chance to look at the pictures we put out, she is in the pink, literally. She’s wearing a brilliant pink jacket today.
Just a little bit of color for you all, we have every Monday the large Department staff meeting where she has her deputies, all of the under secretaries, all of the assistant secretaries, all the special envoys. Riffraff like me get to go. And when she walked in the room, she had a standing ovation from 75 people assembled, and then Deputy Secretary Nides presented her with a gift from all of us in a big box. You probably saw the pictures. And she opened the box, and inside – first of all he said, “As you know, Washington is a contact sport.” And she opened the box, and inside was a football helmet with the State Department seal, lots of good padding, and also a football jersey that said Clinton on the back and on the front it says number 112, which symbolizes the number of countries that she’s visited as Secretary of State.
And she loved it. She thought it was cool. But then, being Hillary Clinton, she wanted to get right to business. So we do what we always do in that meeting, went around the room, and she heard from everybody what they’re working on and what’s coming forward. She did take the opportunity to reiterate to everybody that with regard to the Accountability Review Board recommendations that she wants to have every single one of those recommendations on its way to implementation by the time her successor is sworn in and takes up his duties, and that she’s expecting everybody to work hard in that regard. And then obviously, she was interested in hearing about all of the policies underway, particularly focused, obviously, on President Karzai’s visit later in the week.
So with that, let me go to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: You said pictures, but to my knowledge, only one picture has been released. Are there others that have been put out that we haven’t seen or – the one that was released showed her sort of from the back with Deputy Secretary Burns next to her and kind of the table going out. So are there other pictures that you have not released and they plan to or –
MS. NULAND: Just before I came out, I saw three more – maybe they haven’t come through your spam filters there, Arshad – (laughter) – that have – there are three pictures of her receiving this gift, opening the box. There’s a picture of the helmet and a picture of the jersey.
QUESTION: Okay. They’re not out?
MS. NULAND: So if you don’t have those, we will get those to Reuters. I don’t know how we managed to miss you.
QUESTION: I think the –
QUESTION: They’re just out.
MS. NULAND: Are they just out? Okay, all right. Please, Matt, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. Are we on the – are we staying on this subject?
MS. NULAND: Let’s –
QUESTION: Well, I want to stay on the subject of the meeting but not necessarily about her return. Was there anything other than Benghazi that was discussed? There was talk to anything of note that was – I mean, she has been gone for a month.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Well, I’m obviously not going to get into all the details of an internal meeting, but she heard from all of her regional assistant secretaries about what the hot issues that they’re working are on in their region. She heard from many of the unders this morning, as she always does in that meeting.
QUESTION: On her schedule, could we just continue on that?
MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So we know some of the rest of the week. How intense would you say this is compared to what she normally does, and are there any other adds that we should be looking out for? We have Karzai, we have some White House meetings.
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we usually update that schedule during the course of the week as more things come on to the schedule. Today, she’s doing a lot of internal meetings. She was sitting there in this big staff meeting saying, “And I want to see you today, and I want to see you today, and I want to see you today.” So she’s doing a lot of that. There may be other meetings outside the building today. We’ll let you know as it comes forward. But then, now being sure that she’s going to be here, I’m sure the schedule will get more full during the course of the week.
QUESTION: And any Kerry meetings?
MS. NULAND: Meetings with Senator Kerry?
QUESTION: Yeah. In person?
MS. NULAND: She has been talking to him virtually nonstop. She’s had – apparently had sort of daily phone calls, a number of phone calls. He is not in the building today. But as I said last week, 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.
QUESTION: And then on Benghazi, of course, we all want to know what that might – what the schedule might be on that.
MS. NULAND: Well, let me just say that she will testify. She will testify while she is still sitting Secretary of State. As I mentioned last week, we have a new Senate Foreign Relations Committee; we have the 113th Congress in now. We also need a confirmation hearing for Senator Kerry. So we’re working now with the committee on scheduling both the Benghazi hearing, the confirmation hearing, getting the sequence agreed with them. But as you probably know, they are now not coming back until right after the inaugural. So it obviously couldn’t be before then. But I don’t yet have dates to announce. You might talk to the committee too, but we’re continuing to work on that.
QUESTION: So that would obviously mean that she will be staying in place, at least for a while, after the inauguration.
MS. NULAND: Well, again, the committee is not in session. The Congress is not in session, Senate’s not in session. So obviously a new Secretary can’t take up duties until there has been a confirmation hearing, until there has been a vote, et cetera. So our expectation is that we will be able to sequence this so that she will testify as sitting Secretary. We will also have a confirmation hearing. And all of this, obviously, will be preparatory to a transition.
QUESTION: Just a couple of – some things. How’s she feeling?
MS. NULAND: She looks fantastic. She seems to be terrific.
QUESTION: And is her – is she now back to a regular schedule then? She’s not curtailing her days or anything? She’s planning to work as hard as she always does?
MS. NULAND: I would guess, judging by the way she was this morning, yes.
QUESTION: And then last thing: Is it still the case that she is – well, do you expect her to travel abroad during the remaining of her tenure as Secretary of State, or can you rule that out now?
MS. NULAND: We don’t have any travel scheduled. As you know, under doctor’s advice, she is not supposed to travel for the coming period. And it’s going to be pretty busy here, including, as we discussed, with her testimony.
QUESTION: And just one more. Is she on blood thinners?
MS. NULAND: Jill, I don’t have any more to give you, beyond what we have already put out, which we made –
QUESTION: (Inaudible) were indicating that –
MS. NULAND: I mean, her doctors made clear that they had prescribed them. I’m not going to give you a daily update on her dose, if that’s what you’re looking for.
QUESTION: No. I just wanted to confirm that she is.
MS. NULAND: Nothing has changed from that report, except that she’s obviously here.
QUESTION: This is kind of a variation on Arshad’s question. Is Secretary Clinton fully recovered?
MS. NULAND: Judging by the woman we saw this morning and the workload that she’s got, she seems to be fully recovered. Yes.
QUESTION: This entrance into the room today, where she received a standing ovation and so forth, was that, by any chance, videotaped?
MS. NULAND: No. There was a still photographer who – the State Department’s photographer who put out the photos you saw.
QUESTION: And I know that you have spoken from the podium in recent days, since she fell ill, about how the Department’s belief is that it has been very transparent with regard to updates about Secretary Clinton and her condition at the various junctures. Are there – were there legal requirements attendant at any point along the way here, in so far as she may have been completely incapacitated and somebody else had to become acting Secretary or anything like that?
MS. NULAND: No. We didn’t have to invoke an acting Secretary stipulation. But obviously you saw that her two deputies, Deputy Secretary Burns and Deputy Secretary Nides, picked up a number of activities for her. Deputy Secretary Burns did the trip she was planning to do that second week of December. They both testified on Benghazi after the ARB hearing. But it obviously – there was no moment at which her duties were transferred to them.
QUESTION: So I presume that had she, at any point, been fully incapacitated the proper protocols would have been invoked, correct?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: So she was never fully incapacitated?
MS. NULAND: Again, James, I think we’ve spoken to her health situation all the way along. There was no moment at which it was deemed that she was incapable of performing duties, except that her deputies were asked to take up meetings and trips that she couldn’t do because she was sick in bed.
QUESTION: And just as a final sort of punctuation mark on this, at any point was the State Department legal counsel or the legal advisors consulted with respect to these considerations?
MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, no.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask if she saw fit to model her gifts. Did she put on the helmet? (Laughter.) Or was the ghost of Michael Dukakis too strong for her to be photographed wearing protective headwear?
MS. NULAND: She is – you’ll see in the photo – she’s holding it up, both the helmet and then later the jersey.
QUESTION: Yeah. But she didn’t put it on?
MS. NULAND: Let me just say, as a fellow chick, her hair looked fabulous this morning. I’m not sure I would have challenged my hair with a helmet either.
QUESTION: Well, if she did, if we can get a photograph of it –
MS. NULAND: Yeah, I’m sure you would love a photo. Even better if it had the Bills on it, right? Yeah. Exactly.
QUESTION: And last one. You said she will testify as long as she’s a sitting Secretary. When she –
MS. NULAND: When she testifies she will be the sitting Secretary is my point, that she will testify before he successor takes office was the point.
QUESTION: Oh. But if she’s – if Senator Kerry takes over, she can be asked to testify after that?
MS. NULAND: No. That wasn’t my implication. My implication was that she’s made a commitment to testify. We expect we’ll be able to get that done before her successor takes office.
QUESTION: In open session? Is that part of the commitment?
MS. NULAND: She is prepared to do it in open session, if that’s what the committees would like. Our understanding is that that’s what they would like. But obviously we’re still talking to them.
QUESTION: Sorry. Presumably she’s talked to Senator Kerry about this. This is all right with him, yeah?
MS. NULAND: What do you mean?
QUESTION: Well, that she’s going to stay on a little bit longer, and I don’t know if he’s like really itching to get into – I mean, theoretically, you could have the – his confirmation hearing could be on the 21st. He could get – then there could be a vote. He could be in as early as the 22nd. So I’m just asking, she’s talked with him and it’s okay with him if she stays on for a couple days?
MS. NULAND: I think without getting too much into every hour of every day, I think the expectation is that the sequence will work out such that she’ll be able to testify; he’ll be able to have his hearing. And by the time he’s fully off the floor, the testimony will be behind her.
QUESTION: All right. And then just a last one, and I – this is probably better asked of his office or the Senate, but do you know if he is planning to chair the hearing at which she – at least the Foreign Relations Committee hearing? Not his confirmation hearing but her testimony.
QUESTION: Yeah, that’s good work if you can get it.
MS. NULAND: (Laughter.) Is he going to chair his own hearing, is that what you’re asking? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, but is he going to chair the hearing at which she testifies before his committee?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m going to send you to the SFRC on this –
QUESTION: You don’t know.
MS. NULAND: — but my understanding is that there are new chairs of the committee for the 113th Congress. That’s my understanding.
QUESTION: Can we change topics?
MS. NULAND: Yes.