February 2, 2024

Reporter Asks Why Lloyd Austin Shouldn't Be Fired After Hospital Controversy

In a rigorous interview on Thursday, NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about the concealment of his surgery from President Joe Biden, colleagues, and the public, raising the issue of potential dismissal from his role.

Austin addressed the matter during his first press briefing on Thursday after a two-week hospitalization in January due to surgery complications.

The public became aware of the situation solely through media reporting, and the Biden Administration was kept unaware of the details surrounding Austin's initial surgery, complications, and its purpose.

Austin apologized for the lack of transparency, prompting Alexander to inquire about the justification for not removing him from his position. Alexander pointed out that in the military chain of command, anyone else would likely have faced reprimand or dismissal for a similar situation.

In response to the questioning, Austin acknowledged the failure in communication, stating, "Well, let me just say — thanks for the question — that we didn’t get this right. And as I said, I take full responsibility for the department’s actions in terms of why — on the second notification was not made to the White House, that information was available. I’m not sure, at this point, what exactly happened, but I think details will play out as the review is conducted."

According to Tim W., a former Navy Seal with 22 years of service, such actions by a regular soldier would result in various punishments, including restriction, demotion, loss of pay, security clearance, brig confinement, or even an "other than honorable" discharge, for an "Unauthorized Absence."

Republican Florida Rep. Brian Mast, a 12-year U.S. Army veteran, expressed that Austin's conduct would have been deemed "absolutely unacceptable for any other rank-and-file member of the military at any level."

Austin, diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December, underwent a procedure on Dec. 22, leading to complications and a subsequent Urinary Tract Infection, which prompted his second hospitalization at Walter Reed Hospital on Jan. 1.

Neither Austin nor the Pentagon informed the White House or Congress until several days into his hospital stay.

Despite the controversy, President Biden expressed that he would not seek Austin's resignation, as confirmed by a White House official.

The president also declined any potential resignation from the Secretary of Defense following the incident, as reported by a White House official to Politico.

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