The Pentagon revealed Monday that the White House was kept in the dark over Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s intensive care unit hospital treatment for days due to his chief of staff having the flu.
Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder provided updates to the media in an off-camera gaggle Monday, where he explained that Austin’s quiet hospitalization was kept from the White House and National Security Council for days due to Austin’s chief of staff having the flu.
The press secretary added that Austin is out of the ICU and is “good” condition, but remains at Walter Reed hospital for continuing treatment.
The Pentagon added Monday that the U.S. military strike on Thursday of an Iran-backed militia was authorized before Austin’s hospitalization.
Austin underwent an elective medical procedure on Dec. 22 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and days later experienced “severe pain” while at home. He was again transported to the hospital on Jan. 1 to the intensive care unit, Ryder told Fox News on Sunday. There have been no details released clarifying what elective procedure was carried out.
The Pentagon said the White House was not told on Dec. 22 that Austin was undergoing the elective procedure. Hicks, who picked up some of Austin’s responsibilities during the procedure last month, was also not informed as to why, meaning both the White House and the Department of Defense’s deputy were unaware of the procedure on Dec. 22 and the subsequent complications.
Ryder clarified Monday that Austin was initially taken to the hospital last week via ambulance.
Austin has resumed his duties, but remains at Walter Reed. The Pentagon said no date is set on when he will be released.
The media was made aware on Friday of Austin’s hospital treatment, and reports quickly followed that President Biden, National Security Council and top Pentagon leaders – including Austin’s deputy, Kathleen Hicks – were kept in the dark regarding the hospitalization for days.
Outrage has since mounted, as Republican lawmakers and leaders sound off that Austin must answer many questions regarding the communication breakdown in the chain of command, and even calling for him to resign or be fired.
The White House and Pentagon have both said there are no plans for Austin to resign.
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