Clinton suffers a concussion after fainting

Secretary of state had stomach virus

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WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suffered a concussion early last week after fainting and striking her head, the State Department disclosed on Saturday.

The fainting episode occurred after Ms. Clinton had become dehydrated because of a stomach virus, according to a statement released by Philippe Reines, a close adviser to Ms. Clinton. The statement did not disclose the severity of the concussion nor did it say what day it occurred or why the State Department delayed disclosing the injury.

The statement said that Ms. Clinton was recovering at home, adding that she would follow the advice of doctors and work from home for the next week.

Ms. Clinton will not testify as scheduled before a Senate committee investigating the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in September. According to a spokesman for the Foreign Relations Committee, William J. Burns and Thomas R. Nides, both deputy secretaries of state, will testify in place of Ms. Clinton.

Last week Ms. Clinton, who has been widely discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, canceled a planned trip to Morocco, where she was scheduled to meet with leaders of Syria's opposition. She had also planned to visit Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

Throughout the week, State Department officials gave a mixed picture about the severity of Ms. Clinton's illness. On Wednesday, a State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, described Ms. Clinton as having a "very uncomfortable stomach virus" but did not mention a concussion. The next day, Ms. Nuland said that Ms. Clinton was "under the weather."

Ms. Nuland did say that Ms. Clinton's illness had prevented her from making any calls to foreign leaders.

The Benghazi attack has been at the center of a bitter political fight in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama administration officials of misleading the public about what precipitated the events. Much of the controversy focused on public comments by the ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, shortly after the September attack.

Ms. Rice had been the Obama administration's top choice to succeed Ms. Clinton as secretary of state, but last week she withdrew her name from consideration for the job, citing the continuing controversy.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, 69, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has now become the leading contender to replace Ms, Clinton. But some Democrats worry that a special election to replace him in the Senate could result in a Republican candidate winning his seat.

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