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White House to investigate handoff procedures around defense secretary’s hospitalization

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin The Associated Press/Photo by Maya Alleruzzo

White House to investigate handoff procedures around defense secretary’s hospitalization

Officials in the Biden administration on Monday said they would investigate which policies and procedures Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin may have violated last week. Austin neglected to provide notice that he was unavailable while hospitalized in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s intensive care unit. Austin had undergone an unspecified “elective medical procedure” earlier but suffered complications. He reentered the hospital on Monday—New Year’s Day—but the White House and National Security Council remained unaware of the situation until Thursday. The Pentagon first made Austin’s hospitalization public on Friday as he looked to resume his duties. As of Sunday, he had resumed his duties but was still hospitalized.

Why did Austin need to stay in the hospital? The Pentagon has not specified the exact nature of his medical issue. Austin, 70, has also not said what treatments he received. He has said that he is doing better, acknowledged that he could have communicated better, and committed to communicating better about matters like this in the future.

Dig deeper: Read Daniel R. Suhr’s column in WORLD Opinions about what Austin’s failure to notify officials of his absence means.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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