Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton suggested Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to avoid testifying about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, by coming down with what he called "a diplomatic illness."
Clinton was scheduled to testify this week before a House panel and to present an independent report on the incident. The report, which she received on Monday, will still be presented to congressional leaders in a closed door session Wednesday. But the secretary won't be there because of a concussion she suffered during a fainting spell this past weekend brought on by the flu.
"I think she will have to testify at some point," Bolton told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Monday evening, suggesting that her illness excuse was somewhat suspect.
"You know, every foreign service officer in every foreign ministry in the world knows the phrase I am about to use. When you don't want to go to a meeting or conference, or an event, you have a 'diplomatic illness,' Bolton told Van Susteren. "And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band.
"I certainly hope it was nothing serious, but this was revealed in a way that I think was not transparent," Bolton continued. "And I think there is an obligation here, especially if Secretary Clinton decides to run for president, to indicate what happened. She may not be testifying this week, but she will not escape it forever."
Bolton, who served as U.N. ambassador under former President George W. Bush and is now a Fox News contributor, said he believes Clinton purposely tried to avoid "the spotlight" following the Benghazi attack to make sure she said nothing that could later come back to embarrass her.
"I think she was waiting for the report so she could find out what it said and then fashion her testimony accordingly," Bolton said. "There is nothing more embarrassing than to say something and then have it contradicted and have to change your story later.
"Now she has a chance to read the report and write her testimony at her leisure, and I think that is not transparent either."
Clinton did make a number of public statements following the terrorist attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. But Bolton insisted there were "two critical points" in the days and weeks after the attack that she was "unavailable."
"The first critical point," as he put it, came on Sept. 16 when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared in her place on five Sunday talk shows and insisted the attack was not tied to terrorists but was the result of a "spontaneous" demonstration prompted by anger over an anti-Islam video.
The second critical point, he said, is this week when lawmakers trying to unravel exactly what happened in Benghazi expected to hear directly from her.
"Two points don't make a pattern, but they do make a line," Bolton said, suggesting again that Clinton may be trying to avoid any direct blame for security failures in Benghazi.
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