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Biden says Austin had lapse in judgment for not informing him of hospitalization

President Biden on Friday said that while he still has confidence in Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, he displayed a lapse in judgment for not informing him of his hospitalization.

In his first time weighing in personally on the controversy surrounding Austin, Biden replied “I do,” when asked if he has confidence in the secretary.

When asked if it was a lapse in judgment for Austin to not inform him, he told reporters, “yes.”

Austin underwent surgery in an initial Dec. 22 hospital visit after prostate cancer was detected and he was released the next morning, the Pentagon revealed Tuesday. He returned to the hospital following complications on Jan. 1, but Biden was unaware of his hospitalization until Jan. 4. 

Biden then did not find out about Austin’s prostate cancer diagnosis until Tuesday morning, the same day it was revealed to the public in what some are calling an extraordinary breach of protocol.

The White House has said Biden isn’t considering firing Austin despite mounting criticism, including from some Republicans who have called for Austin to step down. Austin acknowledged that he failed to notify Biden for multiple days when he was hospitalized following complications.

Austin acknowledged that he failed to notify Biden for multiple days that he was hospitalized following complications and apologized for not notifying the White House, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Friday in response to Biden’s comments.

She told CNN that Austin is “doing well” and “on the mend,” adding he’s “been incredibly active over the last week” monitoring the air strikes the U.S. launched against the Houthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday. When questioned by host Jake Tapper if he has access to a secured space at the hospital, known as a SCIF, she replied that he can access secure lines.

“He is fully equipped to monitor everything that happened last night and all around the world,” she said.

The White House announced on Tuesday it is launching a review of protocols for how Cabinet officials delegate authority. 

White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients in a memo to Cabinet secretaries said agencies would be required to notify the Office of Cabinet Affairs and the White House chief of staff in the event they need to delegate their duties when traveling to areas with limited communication, during a hospitalization, or when undergoing a medical procedure requiring anesthesia.

Updated at 4:59 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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