The White House will review Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s lack of disclosure about his hospital stay

(Maya Alleruzzo/Associated Press)

The White House will review Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s lack of disclosure about his hospital stay


January 8, 2024

The White House said Monday that the administration will review what rules or procedures were not followed when Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III failed to disclose his hospitalization to the president for days.


Biden and top Pentagon and National Security Council officials. The Pentagon maintained its silence on why Austin was hospitalized and said he has no plans to resign.

We will do what looks like a hot wash and try to see if processes and procedures need to be changed or adjusted at all so that we can learn from this,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said when asked if Biden wanted to overview of what happened.

Austin, 70, was hospitalized on January 1, which the Pentagon did not announce to the public until Friday. Biden and Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, were not aware of Austin’s condition until Thursday.

The Pentagon still has not said what procedure Austin had on December 1. 22, which eventually caused him so much pain that he was taken by ambulance to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on New Year’s Day and placed in intensive care.

“He was conscious, but in quite a bit of pain,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Monday.

He said Austin, who has resumed his duties, is now out of intensive care and moved to a private room. He is still recovering and his prognosis is good,” but it is not known when he will be released from the hospital. Ryder said Austin has no plans to resign.

Austin spent the evening of January 1 undergoing tests and evaluations. The next day, due to the secretary’s condition and based on medical advice, some authorities were transferred to his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, via a standard email notification that often does not specify the reason for transfer, Ryder said.

Ryder said he, Austin’s chief of staff and senior military adviser, was informed of the defense secretary’s hospitalization on Jan. 2. Hicks, who was in Puerto Rico, was not told the reason for the transfer of powers until January 4.

The Pentagon has said that its chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, did not inform the White House because she had the flu.

Kirby, speaking to reporters from Air Force One as Biden traveled to South Carolina, said there is an expectation among Biden’s Cabinet members that if someone is hospitalized, it will be reported up the chain of command.

Still, White House officials emphasized Monday that Austin continues to maintain Biden’s confidence. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden appreciated Austin’s statement Saturday taking responsibility for the lack of transparency about his hospitalization.

There is no plan other than for Secretary Austin to remain in office and continue the leadership he has shown, Kirby said.


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