Friday, May 24, 2024

White House Says Biden Won’t Fire AWOL Defense Secretary

Biden 'respects the fact that Secretary Austin took ownership for the lack of transparency...'

(Headline USA) The White House said this week that President Joe Biden was not planning to ask for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s resignation, even after Austin failed to inform him of his week-long hospitalization, The Hill reported.

Reports over the weekend revealed that Austin had been incapacitated in the intensive-care unit for days after undergoing an elective surgical procedure, and that he had failed to inform other Pentagon leadership or the White House of his emergency hospitalization.

In fact, when asked about his whereabouts, Austin’s office reportedly told other military personnel that the defense secretary was “working from home for the week.”

The day after Austin was admitted to the hospital, however, he did transfer authorities that required “constant secure communications capabilities” to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

When asked whether Biden would fire Austin, senior administration officials said on Monday that “Austin’s going nowhere.”

National security spokesperson John Kirby confirmed to reporters: “There is no—no plans for anything other than for Secretary Austin to stay in the job and continuing the leadership that … he’s been demonstrating.”

Kirby claimed Biden “respects the fact that Secretary Austin took ownership for the lack of transparency,” and said there would be a review of the situation so the administration could “learn” from the experience.

“Our main focus right now is on Secretary Austin’s health and making sure he gets all the care and support he needs to fully recover,” he added.

The Pentagon also insisted that Austin has no plans to resign.

“He remains focused on conducting his duties as secretary of Defense in defense of our nation,” DOD spokesperson Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters.

Austin is still hospitalized in the Walter Reed Military hospital, but it is not clear what elective procedure he underwent that triggered his emergency hospitalization.

In a statement, Austin admitted that he “could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better,” he said.

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