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December 14, 2017
Tuesday, June 12, 2012

US Commerce Secretary to take medical leave

Commerce Secretary John Bryson, under investigation for his role in two car crashes in California over the weekend that aides linked to a seizure, said he will take an immediate medical leave of absence.

Neither Bryson, 68, nor the White House disclosed any new information in separate statements about his apparent illness other than to say he will undergo tests and evaluation.

The leave is indefinite and a Commerce Department official said Bryson would consult with doctors on his next steps.

"I notified President (Barack) Obama this evening that effective immediately I am taking a medical leave of absence so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend," Bryson said in an internal agency memo released by his office.

Rebecca Blank, Bryson's deputy, will serve as acting secretary of the agency that oversees several federal agencies and focuses on business issues, the agency said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that "the president's thoughts are with Secretary Bryson and his family during this time."

Obama said in a television interview earlier in the day the administration was working to find out what happened two full days after the incident but that "we're going to make sure that he gets the best care."

Obama was not more specific.

Bryson was hospitalized in California but returned to Washington on Monday while police continued their investigation of the bizarre events on Saturday that occurred near his Los Angeles-area home and included a suspected hit-and-run crash.

The incident immediately raised questions about Bryson's health and his future leadership at the agency as Obama courts business leaders in his bid to win a second term in November. Carney said Obama believes Bryson has served "effectively."

Asked whether Obama was aware that Bryson had any kind of medical condition when he selected him for office, Carney would only say: "The president nominated Secretary Bryson to serve because he felt he was capable of doing the job."

Bryson is an energy expert and seasoned businessman. He has held the job for less than a year.

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