A Commerce Department official says Secretary John Bryson has a “limited recall of the events” in which he had a seizure and was involved in two traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area.
The official said the department could not confirm the cause of the seizure and when it happened in relation to the car accidents. Bryson had not had a seizure before, the official said.
The official said Bryson was back in the office Monday and in touch with his doctors who were monitoring its progress.
The Commerce Department official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the incident.
The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold and Ed O’Keefe followed the story on Monday. From their report:
Bryson, who was found unconscious in his car after the last collision, was given a citation for felony hit-and-run by the San Gabriel police while in the hospital Saturday night.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday afternoon that officials were still trying to learn more about the accidents. “We’re obviously concerned about the incident, concerned about Secretary Bryson’s health-related issues that played a role in this incident,” he said. Asked if Bryson still remained healthy and fit to serve, Carney demurred, referring the question to the Commerce Department.
“We’re still in the process of gathering information about it,” Carney said. “He was alone, on private time, not with security detail. He was hospitalized. More needs to be learned.”
Bryson spoke with White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew on Monday but has not spoken with President Obama himself, Carney said in a briefing. He said the White House was informed of the accidents Sunday evening by the Commerce Department and that Obama was informed Monday morning.
The San Gabriel police spokesman, Lt. Ariel Duran, said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to prosecute Bryson, based on the results of toxicology and medical tests and the ongoing police investigation.
Bryson submitted to a breathalyzer test, and the results were negative, according to Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman.
A joint statement by the San Gabriel Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said there were no indications at this point that drug or alcohol use played a role in the collisions. It said “all parties” were cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
The conservative group American Crossroads apologized Monday for a tweet in which it speculated that Commerce Secretary John Bryson had been driving drunk when he caused a series of car accidents in California on Saturday.
“@AmericanXRoads: How does @CommerceSec have 3 car crashes in 5 minutes and alcohol NOT be involved? ?#Skills,” read the initial tweet, according to ABC News. The tweet was posted shortly after 8 a.m. and deleted a few hours later, ABC reports.
Later Monday, the group posted its mea culpa.
“Earlier Bryson tweet with hashtag #skills attempted levity (before facts known) and failed miserably. We took it down and regret the tweet,” reads the later tweet.
The episode is the latest reminder that with the micro-blogging platform’s lack of filter comes a risk as well as reward for outside groups seeking to make an impact on the campaign.