Reporters Grill State Department Over Missing Kerry, Picture Tweeted Hours Later

By Meredith Dake
Posted June 9, 2015 at 11:07pm
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Reporters at the State Department on Tuesday grilled Director of the Press Office Jeff Rathke for nearly 10 minutes on the status of Secretary of State John Kerry’s recovery from surgery. Kerry broke his leg in France on a bike ride according to The Associated Press. It’s been more than a week since the press has seen the secretary and there have been no photos or videos of him “up and around,” as the department has said. The press has asked the State Department for some signs of the secretary’s well being for multiple days and today, Associated Press reporter Matt Lee concluded that conspiracy theories surrounding Kerry were getting “more attention” because of the “secrecy” of the State Department. Hours after the press briefing finished, Kerry tweeted out a photoshowing him working from the hospital, saying he was “feeling good after surgery.” Read a transcript of the exchange below, via CQ.com: QUESTION: Well, can — just on the secretary, is there any update on his schedule — when is he going to appear in public again? RATHKE: I don’t have any update on — on his schedule of that sort. He remains in the hospital and is doing physical therapy and is in consultation wtih his doctors. But I don’t have — I don’t have an announcement about, you know, dates or timelines for his — of course, I know there’s interest. And as soon as we have anything, we’ll share that. QUESTION: Well, I mean, it’s been 10 days now. There hasn’t been a photograph. He hasn’t shown his face anywhere. RATHKE: Well, you know, he’s… QUESTION: And he is the secretary of State. RATHKE: He is the secretary of State, and that’s why we’ve been giving you all regular updates about his activities. You know, he underwent surgery — major bone broken. And so, you know, that’s — that, of course, takes some time for recovery. And we’ve described that from the very start. QUESTION: Well, I understand, but I think that you’ll find that there’s growing interest in what exactly, you know, he’s doing and why — why no one has seen hide nor hair of him. RATHKE: Well, I think I’ve, you know, explained what he’s been doing over the last… QUESTION: No photograph. RATHKE: … day or so. QUESTION: Some video. RATHKE: I understand the interest. RATHKE: And I’m sure that before too long, that will — that will also come. Go ahead. QUESTION: All right. RATHKE: Other… QUESTION: The only other things that I have are follow-ups to yesterday, so I’ll defer… RATHKE: OK. QUESTION: Me, too, actually. So… RATHKE: All right. Nikolai? (ph) QUESTION: Just to follow up on Matt’s question, so the secretary is in good shape, in good spirits? RATHKE: Yes, he remains in good spirits and is making progress, is — you know, is doing physical therapy in addition to, you know, some work on the phone. So, yes, the things are — things are progressing. QUESTION: And, as Matt mentioned, there is not thoughts in this building to — maybe to release a picture of him healing (ph), just to show to the world that he is perfectly OK? RATHKE: Well, as I said in response to Matt’s question, I think, you know, I think that will — that will come. I note — I note the interest. I appreciate it. I understand the reason. So — but, you know, we’ll — when we have something to release, we certainly will. We recognize there’s interest. QUESTION: And I understand that it’s hard to predict, but do you think that he would be able to go to Europe at the end of this month to give a final push to the Iran talks? RATHKE: Well, I’d give two responses to that. First of all, you know, I — as we’ve said from the start, you know, he will have — he’s going to go through his recovery process, you know, aggressively, but responsibly. I don’t have a further time prediction to affix to that. That’s something that, you know, he and his doctors will have to, you know, keep under — keep under review, so I don’t have — I don’t have a timeline. But as we said earlier, with respect to the, you know, the June