By Julian Pecquet - 12/18/12 06:52 PM EST
The State Department on Tuesday slammed John Bolton, George W. Bush's controversial ambassador to the United Nations, after he accused Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Benghazi report fallout | Nearly 50 dead after Istanbul attack Clinton: Istanbul attack strengthens resolve to defeat 'radical jihadism' Trump: Trade partnership is 'continuing rape of our country' MORE of faking an illness to avoid testifying this week about the Benghazi attack.
Bolton implied on Fox News on Monday night that Clinton lied about her illness to avoid saying anything potentially embarrassing that could come back to haunt her should she choose to run for president in 2016. The State Department put out a statement over the weekend from doctors at Mount Kisco Medical Group and George Washington University saying that Clinton “developed a stomach virus, leading to extreme dehydration, and subsequently fainted.”
“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 Fox News's Greta Van Susteren. “And this is a 'diplomatic illness' to beat the band.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland lambasted Bolton's comments during her daily briefing Tuesday.
“It's really unfortunate that in times like this people make wild speculation based on no information,” Nuland said.
“These are people who don't know what they're talking about,” she added.
Clinton was expected to testify about an independent review of security measures in Libya prior to the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11. Her deputies will be going in Clinton's place but the secretary has told Congress she may testify next year.
“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.”
Republicans have slammed President Obama and his State Department for security lapses in Libya following revelations that Stevens asked for more security and was turned down. The attack has already claimed one political scalp after Susan Rice, who has Bolton's old job at the U.N., abandoned her bid to replace Clinton as secretary of State in the face of intense Republican criticism. Republicans targeted Rice for initially linking the Benghazi attack to a peaceful protest gone awry.