State Department officials pushed back on Tuesday against conservative conspiratorial rumblings alleging that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had fabricated an injury in order to avoid giving testimony on the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.
On Monday, John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador under President George W. Bush, cast doubt on reports claiming that a dehydrated Clinton -- recovering from a recent stomach illness that had kept her from an overseas trip -- had fainted and hit her head over the weekend, resulting in a concussion. According to Bolton, Clinton had instead come up with a "diplomatic illness" -- supposedly common in the foreign service community -- to avoid heading to Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify on the Benghazi attack.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Tuesday that Bolton's charges were "completely untrue," later suggesting that he didn't know what he was talking about.
“I can assure you, he's not privy to any inside information," she said, referring to Bolton's allegation as “wild speculation based on no information,” according to Politico.
While Clinton's testimony was cancelled due to insistence from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and reported choice to replace Clinton at secretary of state, she did respond to a report on the Benghazi attack released later Tuesday.
According to an independent panel's findings, the incident, which led to the death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, happened in part due to systematic management and leadership failures at the State Department, which failed to provide sufficient security at the compound in Benghazi.
Clinton reportedly called the report a "clear-eyed, serious look at serious systemic challenges" and accepted all the recommendations in a letter to Congress. She also said that the State Department had begun to take appropriate action based on its findings.