2 January 2013

Africa: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Health of Secretary Clinton


Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

MS. NULAND: Happy New Year, everybody. Happy 2013. I have a few things at the top, first of all a shout out to two guests we have today from Navy Public Affairs. You are most welcome.

Also today is the last day in the office before retirement for our spectacular office management assistant Joanne Pettaway. She's here with us today. I know many of you have dealt with her over the years. She's been at the State Department for 43 years. She's worked for 15 Secretaries of State. She's spent 14 years in Public Affairs and had to put up with seven different spokespeople, trained all of us, including myself, so a round of applause and thanks for Jo. We're going to miss you. (Applause.)

QUESTION: I'd like to say something before we go on.

MS. NULAND: Please, Arshad.

QUESTION: Speaking on behalf of the press corps, I just wanted to thank Joanne for her sweetness, courtesy, and forbearance in taking all our calls all these years. (Laughter.) We will really miss you, and you are one of the people who really makes this place run in a much more civilized manner than it otherwise would. So we wish you well. (Laughter and applause.)

MS. NULAND: Hear, hear. We're going to miss you, Mama Jo.

QUESTION: And you're a bombshell. (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: Woo-hoo. All right, you can keep that explicit stuff out of the briefing room, Arshad. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: It's true.

MS. NULAND: All right. Lastly, I know all of you are very interested in the Secretary's health. Again, we want to thank all of you for your good wishes, for your good thoughts over the holiday period. I just wanted to say at the outset that I don't have anything new to update you since the statement that we put out from her doctors on December 31st, where we talked about the fact that a blood clot had been discovered, that she is on blood thinners now and the doctors are monitoring her. We will continue to keep you updated as we have new information to share, as we've been doing all the way along. I think that was our eighth statement in some three weeks. So please bear with us, and we will continue to pass on all of your good wishes to her.

Now let's go to any foreign policy issues that you may have on your minds today.


QUESTION: I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Can I? Just one on that.


QUESTION: And I understand you don't want to dwell on this, but is she still in the hospital and will you let us know whenever she is hopefully back at home and resting?

MS. NULAND: I don't, as I said, have any update from the 31st. We were pretty clear then, and we will give you another update whenever we have something new to share.

QUESTION: Toria, could you make a request?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: Because there have been more technical medical questions. Would it be possible to get a briefing with somebody who might answer - there are some questions that have emerged. Is there somebody that would be able to brief us from the medical perspective or more nitty-gritty of what's happening?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, as you know, two of the eight statements that we've put out have come from her personal physicians, so the degree to which you have further questions you can refer them to us and we will do our best to answer them. But I think really we've been extremely forthcoming, including from her doctors, on the very specific issues here.

QUESTION: Can I ask you - we understood that she was working from her hospital bed. Can you give us sort of any clarification of what type of work she's able to do and if she's been talking to anyone on the phone?

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all to say that, as we said in the statement on New Year's Eve, she has been talking to her staff, including today. She's been quite active on the phone with all of us. But she also made some calls on Saturday to a couple of foreign officials. She spoke to Mr. Brahimi, the UN Special Envoy on Syria, for some half an hour on Saturday, discussing his most recent visit to Syria and the state of play there.

And then she also talked on Saturday to Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Al Thani also on Syria but on support for the Palestinian Authority. They talked a little bit about Afghanistan as well. He, as you know, is a regular interlocutor of hers.

So she has begun to pick up her regular phone contact with some of her counterparts.

QUESTION: But Toria, that would technically be before the news came that she had a blood clot, right?

MS. NULAND: Yes, that was on Saturday.

QUESTION: Okay. So has - I'm sorry, but has - that just raises one question. Is she now, after this news has come out and we're dealing with a slightly different picture, is she now making phone calls or is she talking with staff, anyone, or making international calls?

MS. NULAND: I don't have any other international calls to report besides the two from Saturday. I'll let you know when we have more to read out, as we always do. But as I said, she's been quite active on the phone with staff and taking paper, et cetera.

QUESTION: I have a quick question, Victoria. While the Secretary was in a hospital in New York, the statement was issued by Washington-based physicians; is that right? Any explanation for that?

MS. NULAND: My understanding, and I'll get you a clarification if there is one, that it was a joint statement by her doctor in New York, Lisa Bardack from Mount Kisco Medical Group, and from her doctor here, Dr. Gigi el-Bayoumi from GW.


QUESTION: A follow-up on Arshad and Jill. Just - so you can't tell us whether she's still in the hospital? That's - just factually, is she still in the hospital, or she's left the hospital?

MS. NULAND: As we said on the 31st, she was in the hospital, and I don't have any


QUESTION: So that means she hasn't left. And then the second thing about Jill was just other than the statement that they've issued, the doctors have issued statements, I just want to second Jill's request for whether it would be possible to have an actual briefing where we could talk to her doctors.

MS. NULAND: I really think her doctors have been quite forthcoming in the two statements that they have issued. If you have more specific questions, you can send them to us and we'll do our best to get them answered for you.

Anything on the foreign policy side? Can we move on to the world out there? Said.

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