Clinton back to work with applause and helmet gift

Clinton back to work with applause and helmet gift

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Clinton back to work with applause and helmet gift

US Secretary of State Clinton holds up a helmet with the State Department logo on it when she returned to work days after her release from a hospital. REUTERS photo

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a standing ovation from her staff and an American football helmet to protect her from Washington’s hard knocks as she returned to work after a health scare.

A month to the day since she was last seen on official duties when she flew back from a trip to Europe on Dec. 7, Clinton chaired her regular weekly Monday meeting with her closest staff and advisers.
“It is a great day here in the department ... Secretary Clinton is back to work,” State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding that the 75 people present at the meeting had welcomed her with a standing ovation.

Clinton had first succumbed to a virulent stomach virus, but then became dehydrated and fell, suffering a concussion. Doctors say the blood clot found later in a vein behind her right ear most likely resulted from the fall.

‘Contact sport’

As a joke, the staff presented her with a white football helmet, with “lots of good padding” bearing the State Department’s seal, and a blue football jersey printed with the words “Clinton” and “112,” to signify the number of countries she has visited during her four-year tenure, Nuland said. Deputy Secretary Tom Nides presented the gift in a big box, handing it over with a warning about life in Washington being “a contact sport,” according to the spokeswoman.

There are still some outstanding dossiers for Clinton to deal with before she steps down as secretary of state, with veteran Sen. John Kerry already tapped by President Barack Obama to replace her. Notably, U.S. lawmakers are expecting her to testify on the killings of four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Victoria Nuland stressed Clinton will appear before lawmakers to discuss the findings of an internal review that faulted the State Department for grossly inadequate security, and that she would do so before stepping down. “She will testify while she is still sitting secretary of state,” Nuland said.