Tuesday 9 January 2024

Biden Has ‘Full Confidence’ In Austin, Won’t Accept Resignation If Offered: Reports

 President Joe Biden reportedly has no intention of having Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin leave his administration over a secretive hospital stay.

Senior administration officials told POLITICO the president would not accept the defense secretary’s resignation if offered. “Austin’s going nowhere,” one of the sources said. The report follows a White House official telling Reuters that Biden has “full confidence” in Austin and is “looking forward to him being back at the Pentagon.”

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced on Friday that Austin had been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for “complications following a recent elective medical procedure” a week ago.

While the Pentagon press corps immediately expressed outrage over being kept in the dark, news reports followed disclosing that lawmakers, White House officials, and even top DoD brass were not informed of Austin’s health scare for days — including the deputy who temporarily assumed some of the defense secretary’s responsibilities.

There have been some calls among congressional Republicans and former President Donald Trump for Austin to resign or be fired. Others just want more answers.

A U.S. official told ABC News that Biden was exasperated by the lack of transparency and that there would be a review of the episode. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Monday, “There is no plans or anything other than for Secretary Austin to stay in the job and continue in the leadership that he’s been demonstrating,” according toCNN.

As of Sunday night, Austin remained hospitalized but had resumed his duties. He was admitted to Walter Reed’s intensive care unit after experiencing “severe pain” more than a week after undergoing an undisclosed elective procedure, officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Fox News reported on Monday that Biden and Austin authorized a strike in Baghdad on January 4 before Austin was hospitalized. The DoD saidthe “self-defense strike” on that day killed a terrorist leader from an Iran-backed group.


Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder pinned the late notification to the White House on Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, also being ill, according to The Washington Post. Ryder reportedly claimed to have no information when asked why no one else sent out word about Austin’s hospitalization.

In other comments to the press, Ryder has said Austin was placed in the intensive care unit “due to his medical needs, but then remained in that location in part due to hospital space considerations and privacy.” And Ryder has insisted that Austin “has no plans to resign.”

Austin said in a statement over the weekend that he was on the mend and conceded that he could have “done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed.” He added, “I commit to doing better. But this is important to say: this was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.”

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