The much-awaited release of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board report on the attack in Benghazi, Libya has not quieted the chattering of conservatives about an administration cover-up. Instead, the new conspiracy theory surrounding the tragedy is that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is faking recovery from a concussion to avoid testifying to Congress on the report’s contents.
Accusations began with former Bush Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton on Monday outright stating that Clinton is lying about her illness while appearing on Fox News, setting off a string of rumors. In his conversation with host Greta Van Sustren, Bolton said, “You know, every foreign service officer in every foreign ministry in the world knows the phrase I am about to use: When you don’t want to go to a meeting or conference, or an event, you have a ‘diplomatic illness.’ And this is a ‘diplomatic illness’ to beat the band.” Right-wing commentator Charles Krauthammer joined Bolton’s analysis on Tuesday evening.
Which lead to the hosts of Fox and Friends running with the theorizing on Wednesday morning. Dropping any pretense, hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade both outright stated in their exchange that Clinton was avoiding discussion of Benghazi to keep her credibility for a run for the White House in 2016:
DOOCY: If she runs for President in four years, this is not helpful to her, the fact that there were these systemic failure and management failures. Where the people in the field are asking for help and they’re saying ‘Sorry, we don’t have enough money.’ That’s not acceptable.
KILMEADE: You’re saying in four years she should recover from the concussion. That should be a long enough period –
DOOCY: That we didn’t know about until it was time to go to Capital Hill. [CROSSTALK]
KILMEADE: That’s a long enough period of time, after having a concussion, to remember everything.
The State Department announced on last Thursday afternoon that Clinton sustained a concussion during a fall, the result of extreme dehydration in the course of a debilitating stomach virus. Department spokeswoman Victora Nuland yesterday slammed insinuations that Clinton could be hiding from the Benghazi report, saying that it is “really unfortunate that in times like this people make wild speculation based on no information.” Deputy Secretaries Thomas Nides and William Burns will testify in Clinton’s place in open hearings of Congress on Thursday, and Clinton has also confirmed that she will be available to speak before various Congressional committees in January.