The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Gabrielle Giffords has not yet been given details of the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson that wounded her and 12 others and killed six people, including a staff member, according to her chief of staff.
Pia Carusone said Wednesday on CBS' "The Early Show" that the Arizona congresswoman, who can carry on simple conversations, knows there was a traumatic event but has not been told about the severity of the wounds to others. That will happen in time when she's "at a higher level of communication," Carusone said.
"Doctors have said it's not really fair, as you can imagine, to tell someone something so tragic and someone that might not have the ability to ask the detailed questions that someone will have when they hear this news," she said.
Jared Loughner is charged in federal court with killing a federal judge and Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman and attempting to kill Giffords and two other staffers, Pamela Simon and Ron Barber. Giffords was shot in the head and is undergoing intensive rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston.
Words in her vocabulary are returning and she is saying new wordsones every day, Carusone said. Giffords can also sense when conversations turn serious and recognizes visitors, she said.
"Short phrases, simple thoughts. There's no doubt that she understands what's happening around her. She laughs at the appropriate times," Carusone said. "She's just working really hard and progressing. It's paying off. And every day there's new progress that you see. So, you know, we feel very hopeful at her recovery."
Meanwhile, congressional friends of Giffords are holding a campaign fundraiser next month for her 2012 election. Democrats Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida are co-chairs of the March 15 reception in Washington for the wounded Arizona congresswoman."We are so proud of her as she continues to make incredible strides in her recovery," the three lawmakers wrote in a letter included with the invitation. "We look forward to seeing her again soon and to the day that she will rejoin us in the halls of Congress."
The lawmakers wrote that they were seeking support for the fundraising event so Giffords could focus on the "important work of her recovery." Several other lawmakers are hosting the event, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.