* Clot diagnosis follows weeks of illness
* Speculation swirling over Clinton's health
* Congress awaits testimony on Benghazi attack
By Andrew Quinn
WASHINGTON, Dec 30 U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton was admitted to a New York hospital on Sunday
with a blood clot linked to a concussion she suffered earlier
this month, the State Department said in an announcement that
looked sure to fuel speculation over the health of one of
America's best-known political figures.
Clinton, 65, has been out of the public spotlight since
mid-December, when officials said she suffered a concussion
after fainting due to a stomach virus contracted during a trip
"In the course of a follow-up exam today, Secretary
Clinton's doctors discovered a blood clot had formed, stemming
from the concussion she sustained several weeks ago," State
Department spokesman Philippe Reines said in a statement.
"She is being treated with anti-coagulants and is at New
York-Presbyterian Hospital so that they can monitor the
medication over the next 48 hours," Reines said. "They will
determine if any further action is required."
U.S. officials said on Dec. 15 that Clinton, who canceled an
overseas trip because of the stomach virus, suffered a
concussion after fainting due to dehydration.
They have since described her condition as improving and
played down suggestions that it was more serious. She had been
expected to return to work this week.
Clinton's illness, already the subject of widespread
political speculation, forced her to cancel planned testimony to
Congress on Dec. 20 in connection with a report on the deadly
attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
The attack became the subject of heated political debate in
the run-up to the U.S. presidential election in November, and
Republican lawmakers have repeatedly demanded that Clinton
appear to answer questions directly.
Clinton's two top deputies testified in her place on the
Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, which killed the U.S. ambassador
and three other Americans and raised questions about security at
far-flung diplomatic posts..
Some Republican commentators have implied that Clinton was
seeking to avoid questioning on the subject, suggestions that
have been strongly rebutted by State Department officials.
Clinton has stressed that she remains ready to testify and
was expected to appear before lawmakers this month before she
steps down, as planned, around the time of Obama's inauguration
for his second term in late January.
After narrowly losing the Democratic presidential nomination
to Obama in 2008, Clinton has been consistently rated as the
most popular member of his Cabinet and is often mentioned as a
potential presidential candidate in 2016.
Any serious medical concern could throw a fresh question
mark over her future plans, although she has frequently alluded
to her general good health.
Dr. Edward Ellerbeck, a professor at the University of
Kansas School of Medicine, said clots are more common in people
who are sedentary, genetically predisposed, or on certain types
of medicines such as the contraceptive pill or Estrogen
Ellerbeck, who is not treating Clinton, said clots are
usually treated with blood thinners, typically for three to six
months, and generally carry a low risk of further complications
Clinton is not known to have any of the risk factors that
increase the risk of abnormal clotting, such as atherosclerosis
or autoimmune disorders.
Head injuries such as the one she sustained earlier this
month are associated more with bleeding than with clotting.
In one well-known case of bleeding following a head injury,
actress Natasha Richardson hit her head skiing in 2009 and
seemed fine, but died two days later of a hematoma, or bleeding
between the outer membrane of the brain and the skull.
Clinton has said she wants to take a break from public life
and has laughed off suggestions that she may mount another bid
to become the first woman president of the United States - a
goal she came close to reaching in 2008.
Her stint as secretary of state has further burnished the
credentials she earned as a political partner to her husband,
former President Bill Clinton, and later as a Democratic senator
from New York.
In the four years since she became Obama's surprise choice
as the top U.S. diplomat, Clinton has broken travel records as
she dealt with immediate crises, including Libya and Syria, and
sought to manage longer-term challenges, including U.S.
relations with China and Russia.
She has maintained a punishing travel schedule, and was
diagnosed with the virus after a December trip that took her to
the Czech Republic, NATO headquarters in Brussels, Dublin and
Belfast - where she had her last public appearance on Dec. 7.
Officials announced on Dec. 9 that she was ill with the
stomach virus, forcing her to cancel a trip to North Africa and
the Gulf that was to include a stop in Morocco for a meeting on
the Syria crisis.
READY TO STEP DOWN
Clinton has repeatedly said that she only intended to serve
one term, and aides said she was on track to leave office within
the next few weeks, once a successor is confirmed by the Senate.
Her last months in office have been overshadowed by the
Benghazi attack, the first to kill a U.S. ambassador in the line
of duty since 1979, which brought sharp criticism of the State
An independent inquiry this month found widespread failures
in both security planning and internal management in the
It did not find Clinton personally responsible for any
security failures, although she publicly took overall
responsibility for Benghazi and the safety and security of U.S.
The State Department's top security officer resigned from
his post under pressure and three other mid-level employees were
relieved of their duties after the inquiry released its report.
The controversy also cost U.S. Ambassador to the United
Nations Susan Rice her chance to succeed Clinton as secretary of
Rice drew heavy Republican criticism for comments on several
television talk shows in which she said the attack appeared to
be the result of a spontaneous demonstration rather than a
planned assault. She ultimately withdrew her name for
consideration for the top diplomatic job.
Obama on Dec. 21 nominated Senator John Kerry, the
Massachusetts Democrat who heads the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, to fill the position of secretary of