Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The MA Issue Be Damned: Hillary's Transition Plans Remain On Track

The first topic of discussion at today's press briefing was the transition process for the new administration.  According to Victoria Nuland, Mme. Secretary's plans to retire from her demanding position which she has filled so well have not changed.  So despite the scenario involving Massachusetts posted yesterday, it does not appear that she will remain longer than this first term.  Here are some of the exchanges on that subject.

Victoria Nuland
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 7, 2012

12:52 p.m. EST
MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. Into the future. I have nothing at the top. Happy Wednesday.
QUESTION: For the future, can we now talk about the top foreign policy priorities for going forward, and more specifically perhaps, what are the Secretary’s plans herself?
MS. NULAND: I don’t think the Secretary’s plans have changed. You’ve heard her say many times that she intends to see through a transition of a successor and then she will go back to private life and enjoy some rest and think and write and all those things.
QUESTION: Foreign policy initiatives, what’s top of the agenda for the Administration now?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think we need to – we just had an election last night. There are people who were up a lot of the night counting and enjoying it, so I’m not going to stand here and make any big predictions on the second term. I think we’ll let the President take the lead on those things.
QUESTION: Victoria, I just heard Mr. Tony Blair speak from Jerusalem and saying that the environment was quite propitious, actually, to pursue a very active and energetic peace process led by the United States of America with the reelection of the President. Do you concur with the former British Prime Minister?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we work very closely with Tony Blair in his role as the UN’s envoy on all of these matters and will continue to do so. Our goals are identical. We want to see these parties get to the negotiating table and we will continue to work to facilitate that, but I don’t have anything particularly new to announce today, Said.
QUESTION: Will the Administration pursue the two-state solution as vigorously as it has in the past four years?
MS. NULAND: Again, all of you guys are going to be looking today for brand-new initiatives for the second term. We’re going to let the President speak to his priorities before we start being highly predictive here.
QUESTION: So lastly, just to clarify, do you believe that the State Department or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, before his presumed departure, will sort of launch a new initiative for the – in particular for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process?
MS. NULAND: I think we’re going to continue to work very vigorously. She has her personal diplomacy that she does with the parties. I think that will continue, as will all of our efforts, but in terms of anything new to announce today, Said, I don’t have anything new to announce at the moment.
QUESTION: I think a lot of (inaudible) stuck pending the results of the elections if you look at perhaps Iran and the nuclear issue, if you look at Syria and what’s going on forward there. Is there a sense now that there might be some way forward of actually moving ahead with the – with some of these very difficult issues which have really bogged down in the last few months because nobody was willing to make a real decision on them?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m obviously not going to credit the premise that things have sort of been stopped, but let me just say that as with any election anywhere, we now have a chance to – now that the election is finished, we have a chance to look forward, and I’m confident that the President and his team will do that and the Secretary will continue to serve through the term. But I don’t have anything new and bold to announce here today.
QUESTION: Can you explain why you don’t agree with the premise of the question? Would that be the fact that there are talks with – among the P-5+1? There are – the Doha meeting that you’ve been involved in, is that what you mean?
MS. NULAND: All of those things. We’ve continued our diplomacy all the way through.
QUESTION: So now that the election is over and the President has safely been reelected, you’re going to answer all of our questions about Benghazi? Or is that too much to hope?
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
MS. NULAND: I think you know where we are. We have an ARB running, and the ARB, we hope, will answer all of our questions.
QUESTION: So the answer is no?
MS. NULAND: What specifically did you have in mind, Matt?
QUESTION: Well, any of the questions that you’ve been asked over the past several weeks that you’ve refused to answer.
MS. NULAND: And we have tied that to the fact that we have an ARB running. It was never tied to the election.
QUESTION: Oh, I think that some people thought that it was.
MS. NULAND: That was not what we said from this podium ever.
QUESTION: You think as far as Secretary’s future plans are concerned, you think still she can change her mind and she will remain and stay?
MS. NULAND: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Because she mentioned two weeks ago she might stay because of remaining work that – because she happen to be one of the best Secretaries of State in the United States history.
MS. NULAND: Well, I will make sure she reads the transcript and hears you say that, Goyal. (Laughter.) She seems pretty set in her plans. I think you probably misread a little bit the way the comment came out earlier. What she was talking about was that she would ensure that the transition to her successor happens smoothly, and I think that’s still her intention.
QUESTION: One more. In India, she’s well-liked and that’s what their views are, that they hope that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when she was in India, they really love her, stay – and to be continuous. That’s why.
MS. NULAND: Excellent.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The last one on the Secretary of State’s impending departure: A moment ago, you said she would serve through the term. Is – that’s pretty certain at this point?
MS. NULAND: That’s what she’s been saying.
QUESTION: She has, right.
MS. NULAND: Yes. She’s been very consistent.
QUESTION: And do you have any sense of how quickly the transition would come?
MS. NULAND: Well, one doesn’t generally have a hearing on a successor for the second term until the second term has begun, but it’s obviously up to the President to make a nomination when he’s ready and for the Congress to act – for the Senate to act on it. So you know how that usually goes. You know – you’ve been around the block as well Guy.
QUESTION: What can you – can we move on?
MS. NULAND: Yes, please.