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Defense Secretary Austin released from hospital after controversial secret stay

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been released from the hospital following surgery related to prostate cancer, which led to controversy when he failed to inform the Biden administration of his whereabouts and condition.

Austin was released on Monday from Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Austin is expected to work from home as he recovers.

“I’m grateful for the excellent care I received at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and want to thank the outstanding doctors and nursing staff for their professionalism and superb support,” he said in a statement.

“I also am thankful and appreciative for all the well wishes I received for a speedy recovery. Now, as I continue to recuperate and perform my duties from home, I’m eager to fully recover and return as quickly as possible to the Pentagon.”

The Defense secretary, who is known for his privacy, triggered controversy by not being transparent about his health and his absence from work.

Even a handful of Democrats have said Austin should be fired by President Biden over the matter.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), an Armed Services Committee member, said Friday that if he were Biden, he would have dismissed Austin.

“I can’t imagine that happening at the lowest levels of the military chain of command. Like where I was as a mere lieutenant platoon commander in Iraq, I can’t even imagine it happening,” Moulton said on “The Hill” on NewsNation. “This is a breakdown in that chain of command. And the commander in chief needs to make a decision here.”

“It’s up to the president as to whether he fires Secretary Austin, but I tell you what, he needs to send a decisive message that this is never gonna happen again,” Moulton added.

“I would fire him in about five minutes,” Moulton said.

Most Democrats have stopped short of calling on Biden to fire Austin, but some Republicans have also called for his resignation.

Austin did not inform Biden about his cancer diagnosis on Dec. 22 or the hospital visit at the time, and the president first learned the Cabinet official had cancer last week.

Austin was also hospitalized in intensive care with a urinary tract infection Jan. 1 and had to delegate his authorities as Pentagon chief to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. Biden and Hicks did not learn of his hospitalization until Jan. 4.

Biden has said Austin’s failure to tell him about the hospitalization was a lapse in judgment, but the Democratic president insists he still has confidence in his Pentagon chief.

During Austin’s time at Walter Reed, the U.S. launched a series of military strikes late last week on the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, targeting dozens of locations linked to their campaign of assaults on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Working from his hospital bed, Austin juggled calls with senior military leaders, including Gen. Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, and White House meetings to review, order and ultimately watch the strikes unfold over secure video.

The Associated Press contributed.

Updated at 12 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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