Pressure Builds on Pentagon to Explain Timeline of Austin’s Hospitalization

Pressure Builds on Pentagon to Explain Timeline of Austin’s Hospitalization

The Pentagon got here underneath elevated stress Sunday to clarify why senior Biden administration officers, congressional representatives and the president himself weren’t notified of the hospitalization of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III till days later.

Former Vice President Mike Pence known as Mr. Austin’s delay in disclosing his hospitalization a “dereliction of obligation.” Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Pence mentioned that the “dealing with of this by the secretary of protection is completely unacceptable.”

He mentioned that Americans “have a proper to learn about his medical situation, in regards to the causes for it.”

Representatives Mike D. Rogers of Alabama and Adam Smith of Washington, the highest Republican and Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, mentioned in an announcement on Sunday that they had been “involved with how the disclosure of the secretary’s situation was dealt with.”

“Several questions stay unanswered,” they added, “together with what the medical process and ensuing problems had been, what the secretary’s present well being standing is, how and when the delegation of the secretary’s tasks had been made and the explanation for the delay in notification to the president and Congress.”

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, advised “Fox News Sunday” that the shortage of disclosure was “stunning.”

Mr. Austin has but to reveal why he has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for the previous week. He was nonetheless there on Sunday however was making calls, receiving operational updates and “recovering nicely and in good spirits,” Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, mentioned in an announcement.

In response to questions from The New York Times, General Ryder mentioned that Mr. Austin underwent an elective medical process at Walter Reed on Dec. 22, two days after getting back from a five-day journey to the Middle East, and returned dwelling on Dec. 23. After experiencing “extreme ache” on Jan. 1, Mr. Austin was taken to Walter Reed and put within the hospital’s intensive care unit, General Ryder mentioned.

Pentagon officers had been scrambling over the weekend to place collectively an evidence about who knew what when. A senior navy official mentioned that Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s most senior officer, was knowledgeable by his personal employees on Tuesday of Mr. Austin’s hospitalization.

But many members of Mr. Austin’s senior crew on the Pentagon weren’t advised, officers mentioned, and the White House and the president weren’t knowledgeable till Thursday, three days after the protection secretary was hospitalized for what the Pentagon known as problems from an elective medical process.

General Ryder advised The Times that as a result of Mr. Austin’s chief of employees, Kelly E. Magsamen, was sick, she was unable to make notifications till Thursday. At that point, General Ryder mentioned, Ms. Magsamen notified Kathleen Hicks, the deputy protection secretary, and Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s nationwide safety adviser, about Mr. Austin’s hospitalization.

It was unclear why one other prime Pentagon aide didn’t make the notifications earlier within the week.

On Sunday, Pentagon officers had been nonetheless sorting via their timeline, saying that Mr. Austin had deliberate to make money working from home final week however that he and his employees didn’t intend to suggest that he was working when he was truly hospitalized. That response was to assertions that Mr. Austin’s aides had advised folks he was working from dwelling after they knew he was within the hospital.

On Saturday night time, Mr. Austin issued an apology of kinds.

“I acknowledge I may have achieved a greater job making certain the general public was appropriately knowledgeable,” he mentioned in an announcement. “I decide to doing higher.”

Mr. Austin added, “This was my medical process, and I take full duty for my resolution about disclosure.”



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