By Julian Pecquet - 01/07/13 07:08 PM EST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was greeted Monday by a standing ovation from State Department employees after returning to work after a weeks-long illness.
Clinton was wearing a bright pink jacket for her first day at work since suffering a stomach virus, a concussion and a blood clot to her brain that sidelined her for most of December. She received a football helmet and jersey symbolizing the “contact sport” of Washington politics from employees.
Clinton fell ill shortly before she was due to testify before Congress about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Clinton's two deputies testified in her place, but Nuland said she intends to appear before Congress before her likely replacement, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), takes over.
“She will testify before her successor takes office,” Nuland said. She added that Clinton has been talking to Kerry “virtually non-stop” to ensure a smooth transition after President Obama nominated him late last month.
Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides presented her with the gifts on behalf of the department during Monday's regular department staff meeting with 75 top officials. The jersey has her name and the number 112 on the back, symbolizing the number of countries she has visited as secretary of State.
Nuland said Clinton quickly got right back to business and pressed the officials to have all 29 recommendations of the independent review board on Benghazi “on its way to implementation by the time her successor is sworn in.”