After Hillary Clinton suffered a concussion when she fainted and hit her head in late 2012, one of closest aides put together an unusual squad to help manage the messaging fallout, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist.
Her injury in December 2012 caused her to postpone her scheduled testimony before Congress regarding the Benghazi attacks. Later that month, Clinton was admitted to the hospital after doctors found a blood clot related to the concussion.
Her injury led to wild accusations of Hillary’s all-too-convenient “Benghazi flu” from some conservative commentators and conspiracy-mongers. Karl Rove even suggested that the blood clot near her brain could cause significant brain damage that would make Clinton unfit for the presidency. (He quickly backtracked on this.)
“Having a cracked head is no fun at all,” Clinton quipped, in an email to close aide Philippe Reines, following the concussion episode.
Reines said he had reached out to the Goodell and Frist—who famously said Terri Schiavo was “not somebody in persistent vegetative state”—to enlist them to push back on conservative figures who were speculating that there was more to Clinton’s health problems than was public.
“I reached out to both the Nfl commish [Goodell] (I remembered that his dad held your Senate seat) and Bill Frist,” Reines told Clinton. “I enlisted their help in my ongoing efforts to undermine the John Boltons and Laura Ingraham’s of the world who are belittling your health... just not letting these comments stand, no matter who says them.”
Frist responded warmly, but there is no evidence that Goodell wrote back to Reines..
“I love her and respect her and I can help. Not sure how exactly [but] I know I can help. I will Keep all Confidential,” said Frist, who was the Majority Leader of the Senate from 2003 to 2007, representing Tennessee for the GOP.
Years later, Bill Clinton said that it “required six months of very serious work” for her to get over the concussion.
Doctors had found a blood clot in her right transverse venous sinus related to her concussion, but ultimately determined that the clot caused no neurological injury. “No lingering effects,” Clinton told Diane Sawyer in 2014, when asked about her experience.
As she recuperated, Clinton received a number of obsequious emails wishing her a speedy recovery from hangers-on like former State Department aide Anne-Marie Slaughter and amateur spy Sid Blumenthal.
“You simply cannot imagine the outpouring of concern and good wishes for your health that I am encountering everywhere I go,” Slaughter wrote, in an email entitled “The People’s Secretary,” on Jan. 3, 2013.
“From taxi drivers to my hairdresser to students to self-professed Republicans, EVERYONE is thinking about you and hoping you recover quickly. I know in many ways this last six weeks has not been the kind of valedictory that your staff, friends and supporters imagined and wanted for you. But in other ways your concussion and it complications has underlined your overall legacy more than anything else could in terms of how the American people assess the job you have done and the way you have represented them in the world over the past four years.”
Blumenthal, meanwhile, rattled off a list of famous politicos who were, in his description, crestfallen by the news of Hillary’s injury. James Carville, Blumenthal said, was “very upset” by the news.
Hillary also received an email expressing “best wishes for a full and speedy recovery” from former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, retired actual spy Valerie Wilson.
“May your holiday season be peaceful and the new year a time of recovery after so many crazy years!” they wrote.