A new book out Tuesday reveals that in Feb. 2010, then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton attended a cabinet meeting with President Obama even after she had been informed that her husband Bill was to undergo an emergency procedure to repair a clogged artery.
Clinton received an emergency phone call on the morning of Feb. 11, 2010 informing her that the former president needed two stents inserted in a clogged artery at a New York hospital. But the former first lady was in Washington, D.C., where she was set to meet with Obama in one of their weekly cabinet sessions.
And according to New York Times reporter Mark Landler, who details the incident in his new book “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power,” Clinton was also struggling to find a place within the Obama administration and needed as much face time with the president as she could get.
Landler wrote an unflattering passage for Clinton about the situation (emphasis added):
The formal, unequal nature of her relationship with Obama was perhaps best summed up by the importance she attached to their weekly meeting in the Oval Office. On a snowy Thursday morning in February 2010 when she was scheduled to meet the president, Clinton got an alarming phone call: Her husband Bill had been admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital with chest pains, and was in need of an urgent heart procedure. Instead of rushing home to him, Clinton kept her weekly appointment, taking her customary seat on the yellow sofa as she and Obama talked about an upcoming trip to the Persian Gulf, where she planned to turn up the heat on Iran over its nuclear program. “No one had any idea, she had a family emergency, said an official who was in the room that day. Afterward, she raced for a shuttle flight back to New York.
Press reports from the time of the health scare — which likely relied on information from Clinton insiders — offer a different portrayal than Landler’s and show that Hillary Clinton did not rush to be by her husband’s side.
ABC News reported:
Sources told ABC News that Secretary Clinton was “very concerned when told about the president, given his heart history” and that it made everyone “very nervous.”
One source told The New York Times at the time that Clinton learned of the former president’s surgery after her meeting with Obama. The Times reported then:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton learned of her husband’s condition after she concluded a meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office.
An associate of Mrs. Clinton’s said she was in Washington, but making plans to head to New York City late this afternoon.
As Landler tells it, Clinton was keenly aware that she did not enjoy the same level of access to the president as some more notable secretaries of state and sought to remain in the loop on key policy issues.
The reporter points to a Dec. 13, 2009 email Clinton sent to her aide, Philippe Reines, discussing an upcoming interview for Newsweek with Richard Nixon’s powerful secretary of state, Henry Kissinger.
“The only issue I think that might be raised is that I see POTUS at least once a week while K saw Nixon every day,” Clinton wrote. “Do you see this as a problem?” she asked Reines.
Clinton’s outsider status in the beginning of the Obama administration was also put on display in a June 8, 2009 email.
“I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Is there? Can I go? If not, who are we sending?” she asked an aide.