State Department vows Clinton will testify before Kerry sworn in

Following a concussion and hospitalization for a blood clot, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has returned to work, State Department officials said in a Monday briefing.

Her promised testimony about State Department preparedness and response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi remains an unfinished item of business. An Accountability Review Board report released before the end of the year purported to clear Clinton of any involvement in the decisions directly pertaining to the deadly attacks, but conservatives have been clamoring to hear her address the systemic problems in the State Department that left the consulate unprotected and vulnerable.

According to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, Clinton still does plan to testify before her successor–likely Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), President Barack Obama’s nominee–is sworn in, but not before the presidential inauguration.

“Well, let me just say that she will testify. She will testify while she is still sitting Secretary of State,” Nuland said. With a new Congressional session and a new makeup of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will hold the hearings along with its House counterparts, she said it would take some time to reorganize and schedule.

“So we???re working now with the committee on scheduling both the Benghazi hearing, the confirmation hearing, getting the sequence agreed with them,” Nuland said. “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.”

This means testimony will be slightly pushed back from mid-January, the most recent time frame promised by the State Department. Obama’s inauguration will be held Sunday, Jan. 20, and the Senate is expected to return the following Monday.

Neither committee has yet announced a hearing schedule for the new year.