(USNewsMag.com) – On Jan. 8 New York Rep. Elise Stefanik called for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s resignation after he kept his hospitalization a secret from Congress and the Biden administration.
Her calls for Austin’s resignation come as the Pentagon on Jan. 5 revealed Austin had been admitted on Jan. 1 to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington with complications from a Dec. 22 surgery. Austin, who spent some time in the intensive care unit, remained hospitalized as of Jan 7, according to the Pentagon.
While the Department of Defense knew about Austin’s hospitalization, nobody else, including President Joe Biden, was aware of his absence until Jan. 5. In the U.S. military chain of command, Austin ranks just below Biden, and Austin must be available at any time to respond to a national security crisis.
In a statement, Stefanik said it was “shocking and absolutely unacceptable” that multiple days went by before the Department of Defense notified anyone that Austin “was hospitalized and unable to perform his duties.” She added that the “concerning lack of transparency” is not only a “lack of judgment” but also “a significant national security threat.”
Stefanik is not the only one to call on Austin to resign. In a Jan. 8 Truth Social post, former President Donald Trump said he “should be fired immediately.”
Some of the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee are also seeking answers as to why the disclosure of Austin’s hospitalization was handled as it was. Chairman and Republican Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers and ranking member Democrat Washington Rep. Adam Smith wrote that “Transparency is vitally important,” adding that many questions about the situation remain unanswered.
Despite calls for Austin’s resignation, on Jan. 8, the White House national security spokesperson John Kirby stated that Biden is not considering firing Austin.
In a statement, Austin acknowledged he “could have done a better job ensuring” the information about his health was appropriately disclosed and committed “to doing better.”
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