Biden’s handling of Defense Sec Austin’s mysterious absence faces backlash from former ambassador: ‘Alarming’

A former ambassador slammed President Biden’s handling of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s mystery ailment and hospitalization, saying it’s “alarming” that Biden did not notice he was “out of action” sooner.

The Pentagon alerted the media last Friday that Austin was hospitalized on Jan. 1 and remains under the care of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Details about Austin’s medical condition are unclear. Officials stated that he underwent an elective medical procedure last month and was hospitalized in the following days.

Biden, along with the National Security Council and leaders at the Pentagon, including Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, were not informed for several days that Austin had been admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit for treatment on New Year’s Day.

Now, James Gilmore, who served as ambassador to the U.S. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe during the Trump administration, said it’s worrisome that Biden is “so detached” from his Defense Department that he did not notice his absence.


“From my experience as ambassador, I know that our allies need to know that the United States is competent and organized to provide leadership in a time of global conflict,” Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia with a background in military intelligence stemming from his military service during the Vietnam War, told Fox News Digital. “The world, allies and adversaries, watches the U.S. and its leadership every day for signs of strength or weakness.”

“It is alarming that President Biden is so detached from his Defense Department, that he didn’t even know the Secretary was out of action, and that the Defense leadership didn’t feel the need to tell him,” Gilmore said. “Biden is only an ‘autopilot President’, who daily shows he is not in control in this time of great danger to our country.”

A Biden administration official responded to the critique by telling Fox News Digital by saying, “I’m not familiar with him.”

“But if he had nothing to say when Donald Trump outright lied to the American public about his covid case at the height of the pandemic, then I can’t hear him now,” the official continued.

The ordeal has led to Trump saying Austin “should be fired immediately” and other Republicans demanding he step down from his post.

“He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was or might be,” Trump said in a previous Truth Social post.

Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks told Axios over the weekend that Austin “has been a disaster since Day One and should be replaced by someone who will focus on making the military ready to fight and win wars instead of advancing woke political causes of the Biden admin.”

Rep. Matt Rosendale’s, R-Mont., office told Fox News Digital on Monday that the lawmakers was introducing articles of impeachment against Austin because he believes Austin “violated his oath of office” on multiple occasions, citing the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the migrant crisis at the border, and last year’s incident with a Chinese spy craft floating above the continental U.S.

“Sec. Austin knowingly put the American people in danger and compromised our national security when he allowed a spy balloon from a foreign adversary to fly over Malmstrom Air Force Base – home to ICBMs – and allowed the Chinese Communist Party to gather intel on American citizens,” the Montana Republican said.


Others, such as Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, said Austin isn’t “capable” of leading the Defense Department.

“And he just proved it again by keeping it a secret when he was very sick and in the ICU,” Greene posted on X. 

The secret hospitalization has caused headaches for the White House, who told Fox News Digital on Monday morning that Biden has no plans to replace Austin and “continues to have full trust and confidence in the Secretary.”

Though still hospitalized, Austin has resumed his duties and is now recovering from treatment and an undisclosed illness. 

Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind contributed reporting.

​Latest Political News on Fox News