Briefing Bites: Carney updates press on Sec. Bryson
June 11th, 2012
03:41 PM ET

Briefing Bites: Carney updates press on Sec. Bryson

White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar has been on TV all morning reporting on the situation surrounding Commerce Secretary John Bryson. Here's the latest from her and the team at CNN Wires on what happened to Bryson in California on Saturday:

WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, who is under investigation for possible felony hit-and-run after allegedly causing two weekend car accidents in California, suffered a seizure, a Commerce Department spokeswoman said Monday.

Police said Bryson was found unconscious at the wheel of his car on Saturday after the two accidents.

Bryson, 68, was issued a citation at an area hospital where he received treatment, said Lt. Ariel Duran of the San Gabriel Police Department. Authorities must still decide whether to formally file any charges.

Bryson voluntarily took a breathalyzer test that detected no alcohol use, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department confirmed Monday. Results from a separate blood alcohol test were pending, Duran said.

A police statement Sunday said the investigation was in "its preliminary stages," and that there was no indication of alcohol or drugs playing a role.

You can read the full story about Saturday's incident here.

At Monday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney provided some limited updates on the situation. While he did link the secretary's health to the accidents, mostly Carney chose to refer members of the media to the Commerce Department for additional comments.

PRESS: Has the president spoken to the secretary? And if so can you tell us about the substance of that conversation?

CARNEY: The president has not spoken with the secretary. Jack Lew, the chief of staff, did speak with the secretary this morning.

PRESS: And what was the nature of the conversation?

CARNEY: Well, as you might expect given the events Jack Lew spoke with Secretary Bryson and I don't have a - a detailed read out of that conversation. We're obviously concerned about the incident, concerned about the Secretary Bryson's health-related issues that - that played a role in this incident and we're still gathering information about it.

PRESS: There are a lot of questions obviously about what happened. Can you give us even a basic sense of what happened?

CARNEY: Well, I would refer you to the commerce department for details. I - I can simply tell you that he was engaged as - been reported in a couple of traffic incidents and that he as the commerce department has said, suffered a seizure, was hospitalized, and, but beyond that I'll refer you to commerce for the details.

PRESS: Can you tell us if the president was aware the secretary had a medical condition that made him prone to seizures?

CARNEY: I - I have nothing on that for you. I can tell you that the president nominated Secretary Bryson to serve because he felt he was capable of doing the job and he has been an affective commerce secretary since he was confirmed.

PRESS: And one last on this. Is he - so as the matter stands right now, is the secretary healthy and fit to serve?

CARNEY: Well, I would refer you to the commerce department for details on - on Secretary Bryson and his health and more details on this incident. You know again we're - we're still in the process of gathering information about it. You understand that this happened - you know he was alone, he was on private time, not with his security detail, he was hospitalized. So there's more that needs to be learned.

While answering questions about why the White House wasn't alerted about Bryson's accidents until Sunday night – the day after the accidents reportedly occurred – Carney repeatedly emphasized just how unique this situation is:

CARNEY: We are in discussion with the Commerce Department about this. Again, it was a unique, let me just step back and say whenever a senior official is involved in an incident of this nature or any kind of incident like it, it is obviously important that the White House find out about it. This circumstance was pretty unique in that Secretary Bryson was alone, was not with a security detail, was on private time, which is common for certain members of the Cabinet. And it resulted in him both having a seizure and ending up in a hospital. For that reason I think you have to recognize that this is somewhat unique. But in general certainly it is important that the white house be informed as soon as possible.

Topics: Briefing Bites • Commerce

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. jean2009

    People do pass out behind the wheel due to many illnesses including heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia, low or high blood pressure, low blood sugar levels, vertigo, dehydration, name a few.

    June 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • jerry

      let mr doogie houser look important and least he is not stammering on this one. Lets have an old fashhioned press conference where o'butthead has to answer some REAL questions from other than friendly press for a change... and let this idiot sit down and play with his yo yo.

      June 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
      • jean2009

        @Jerry the Buffoon:
        Do you post the same thing on each site....thought this subject had been covered today.
        Here is a small list of President Obama's many press interviews and conferences...and how about the Fox News interviews?
        ABC News President Obama press interview 5.9.2012
        White House Press Conference on the economy 6.8.2012
        ABC News President Obama press interview 1.26.2012
        CBS News press interview 12.11.2011
        White House Press Conference 4.29.2009
        PBS News Hour 4.29.2009 First 100 Days.
        NATO press conference 5.21.2012
        Jimmy Fallon show-4.25.2012
        Discusses Climate Change with Rolling Stone 4.26.2012
        PBS News Hour 7.22.2011
        CBS 60 Minutes...11.7.2010
        CBS Katie Couric Interview 2.7.2010
        ABC-Diane Sawyer Interview 1.25.2010
        Fox News Interview 11.18.2009
        Fox News Bret Baier Interview 3.17.2010
        Fox New Bret Baier interview 5.2.2011
        Fox News Bill O'Reilly interview 2.7.2011

        And those are just a few of his many interviews.

        June 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
      • Jill


        June 12, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • John

      I agree Jean, but this is a strange story even for this WH.
      He hit someone, he spoke to them, told them he was pulling over. Then he took off and hit another car then he was found passed out at the wheel?
      I understand things happen. As a matter of fact the Red Sox announcer died behind the wheel of a car several weeks ago. He suffered a heart attack.

      June 12, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  2. Sponge-Bob

    Lock him up and throw away the key.

    June 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  3. Erik

    Hospitals do NOT give out information on patients or treatments... The spokeswoman for the Commerce Dept "detailed" that he had a seizure... apparently they are now doctors and not subject to HIPA over there... We're also reading that he was medicated after his crash, implying he got seizure medication. Unfortunately, giving tylenol for a headache is also "receiving medication", yet again, the release is a violation of HIPA...

    June 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  4. jboh

    Some of the responses posted about this on other articles are despicable. The conservatives writing that trash should be ashamed of themselves for their outrageous accusations/denials about his condition. Of course, none of their "leaders" like old pill-popper, Romney, ect will call them out for the mean-spirtited, don't confuse me w/the facts hacks that they are. I'm sure many are paid by super PACS to post such trash.

    June 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Erik

      how many cars did "pill-popper" Romney hit and run?

      June 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  5. jerry

    who really cares?

    June 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • John

      The people he hit?

      June 12, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  6. California

    It's obvious someone here is getting paid their .03 a day from Media Matters.

    June 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  7. C4CFED

    It appears Commerce officials may be more sympatheitic to Secretary Bryson than they are to the countless Commerce "civil servants" that may have exposed to impermissible levels of asbestos in the government builiding. See letter to President Obama regarding ths matter. Officials (Fred Fanning, Jana Brooks and others) have yet to be appropriately held accountable according to reports. See

    June 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  8. RealityBites

    Just have to wait and see what the Dr. says on this one. False promises, scandals, leaks, cover-ups and back room dirty deals do take a toll on ones believability.., for some.

    June 12, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • John

      nice post....

      June 12, 2012 at 10:02 am |