The Pentagon confirmed Saturday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin remains hospitalized, nearly two weeks after he was admitted due to complications from surgery for prostate cancer.
Providing an update on the health of Austin, who has been hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since Jan. 1, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said the defense secretary is “in good condition” and that it’s still unknown when he will be released.
“He’s in contact with his senior staff and has full access to required secure communications capabilities and continues to monitor DOD’s day-to-day operations worldwide,” Ryder said of Austin. “We do not have a specific date for Secretary Austin’s release from the hospital at this time but will continue to provide daily updates until then.”
The Pentagon publicly revealed Jan. 5 that Austin had been in the hospital since Jan. 1 due to complications from elective surgery.
LLOYD AUSTIN HOSPITALIZATION: HOUSE REPUBLICANS DEMAND MORE DETAILS AS PRESSURE BUILDS ON PENTAGON
Pentagon officials confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin remains hospitalized, nearly two weeks after he was admitted due to complications from surgery for prostate cancer. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
But it was later revealed that not only was the media kept in the dark, but the highest levels of the White House and top officials in the Pentagon itself were not aware until Jan. 4 Austin was in the hospital.
The non-disclosure prompted a flurry of bipartisan concern, with top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees calling for more transparency.
In a recent statement to Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, the White House confirmed President Biden continued to have “full trust and confidence” in the Pentagon’s leader.
BIDEN SAYS AUSTIN HAD LAPSE IN JUDGMENT FOLLOWING HOSPITALIZATION DEBACLE, SAYS HE STILL HAS CONFIDENCE IN HIM
“The president has full trust and confidence in Secretary Austin. He’s looking forward to him being back at the Pentagon,” the official said.
The Pentagon echoed the White House sentiment in a statement to Fox News Digital earlier this week, saying Austin also has no plans to resign.
“Secretary Austin has no plans to resign,” Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder said. “He remains focused on conducting his duties as secretary of defense in defense of our nation.”
Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said earlier this week that Secretary Austin has no plans to resign amid his hospitalization. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Details emerged Wednesday indicating Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, was aware of her boss’s hospitalization Jan. 2 but did not inform Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who took on some of the defense secretary’s duties during the initial hospital stay.
Ryder told reporters this delay was in part due to Magsamen having the flu.
A senior U.S. defense official told Fox News Wednesday a military assistant from Austin’s office notified a counterpart in Hicks’ office of the transfer of authority to her Jan. 2.
Then, on Jan. 4, it was Magsamen who notified the chief of staff for Hicks that Austin had been hospitalized Jan. 1 and that his condition was improving.
When asked by Fox News if it was senior military assistant Lt. Gen. Ron Clark who spoke to the military assistant in Hicks’ office on Tuesday, the senior U.S. defense official did not have an answer and said a 30-day review will cover exactly who the military assistant was.
PENTAGON SLAMMED FOR CALLING LLOYD AUSTIN’S SURGERY TO REMOVE CANCER ‘ELECTIVE’: ‘ARGUING SEMANTICS’
During a visit to small businesses outside Allentown, Pennsylvania, Biden said “yes” when asked by reporters if it was a lapse in judgment for Austin not to tell him about his condition.
When a reporter asked him if he still has confidence in Austin’s leadership following his hospitalization debacle, Biden replied, “I do.”
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center revealed Tuesday that Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December and underwent a prostatectomy on Dec. 22.
The hospital added that the 70-year-old recovered uneventfully from his surgery and was released the following morning. His prostate cancer was detected early, and the prognosis was “excellent,” according to the hospital.
During a visit to small businesses outside Allentown, Pa., Biden said “yes” when asked by reporters if it was a lapse in judgment for Austin not to tell him about his condition. (Bloomberg via Getty Images/AP Photo)
Several House Republicans are going directly to Austin for more information on the decision-making that led to senior officials in the White House and Pentagon reportedly being in the dark for days about his recent hospitalization.
Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., led a group of two dozen GOP lawmakers in writing a letter to Austin with questions about who was part of the decision to delay disclosure, how Austin would respond “if one of your combatant commanders was unable to discharge the duties of their office for three or four days and you were not informed” and who was in the loop about his situation from the beginning, among other details.
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In a post to X on Saturday, New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik wrote, “Secretary Austin and anyone who lied for him will be held accountable.”
The Associated Press, Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom, Greg Norman, and Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.