Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin should be “fired immediately” for keeping the administration in the dark about his hospitalization, according to former President Donald Trump.
Trump launched a fiery post on his social media platform Sunday, excoriating Austin for his “dereliction of duty” by failing to disclose that he has been in the hospital. The fallout continues over the Defense secretary’s whereabouts and condition as the Pentagon has disclosed few details about Austin being admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Monday.
Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder noted in a statement that Austin had an elective medical procedure before Christmas but, once back home, suffered “severe pain,” and was taken back to Walter Reed on New Year’s Day where he ended up in the Intensive Care Unit. The Defense secretary reportedly resumed his official duties on Friday – from the hospital where he remains.
“The Pentagon did not tell President Joe Biden and other top officials about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization for three days, three U.S. officials said,” Politico reported over the weekend.
The latest news set off Trump who fired off a scathing message on Truth Social about the 70-year-old Austin being “missing” for a week.
“Failed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should be fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty. He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be,” the former president began.
“He has performed poorly, and should have been dismissed long ago, along with ‘General’ Mark Milley, for many reasons, but in particular the catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our Country!” Trump concluded.
The lack of transparency over Austin’s hospitalization has prompted much criticism.
“National security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior White House aides didn’t know of Austin’s Jan. 1 hospitalization until the Defense Department sent over word Jan. 4, two other U.S. officials said. Sullivan informed Biden shortly after DOD’s Thursday notification,” Politico reported.
“But the news of Austin’s situation came as a shock to all White House staff as they were unaware the Pentagon boss was dealing with complications following an elective medical procedure, the officials said,” the report continued, citing unnamed sources. “National Security Council staffers were surprised it took the Pentagon so long to let them know of Austin’s status. The Pentagon didn’t make the information public until Friday evening, notifying Congress about 15 minutes before releasing a public statement.”
Austin addressed the issue himself in a statement Saturday.
“I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better,” he said. “This was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.”