Austin has been working from home, and in his full capacity as Defense Secretary.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is out of the hospital and into the frying pan as The Hill reports that he has been called on to testify by Republican House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers regarding “decisions made to withhold information from the President, Congress, and the American people.”
Rogers, who launched an investigation into why Austin did not inform anyone of his hospitalization, said that the head of the Pentagon told him that he would receive answers. However, according to a letter Rogers sent to Austin, he has been disappointed by what he perceives as a lack of transparency. “When you and I last spoke, you promised full transparency,” Rogers wrote. “While you did respond to some of my questions I had for you, a concerning number of questions were not addressed.”
Austin, Austin’s Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen, and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks all responded to questions Rogers fielded for them in letters they were sent on Jan. 9. Austin said in his response that there were not any risks posed to the country during his hospitalization at Walter Reed. Austin also wrote, “Either I, or the Deputy Secretary of Defense, have always been fully prepared to support the President as Commander-in-Chief throughout the duration of my care at Walter Reed.”
Austin also reiterated his public comments on the matter, saying in the letter, “As I have stated previously, I take full responsibility for my personal decisions related to the disclosure of my cancer diagnosis. Health matters, particularly potentially serious illnesses such as cancer, are deeply personal, but I recognize that the office I hold requires a greater level of transparency.”
On Jan. 1, following severe pain, Austin was transported to the hospital via ambulance from his home in Virginia. The White House did not receive notification of the hospitalization until Jan. 4, and legislators were not informed of it until a day later. On Jan. 9, Austin said that his condition was the result of a surgery performed to treat his prostate cancer, which had been discovered during a screening in early December. The White House was also not informed of this development until the morning of Jan. 9.
“Unfortunately, this leads me to believe that information is being withheld from Congress,” Rogers told The Hill. “Congress must understand what happened and who made decisions to prevent the disclosure of the whereabouts of a cabinet secretary.”
Republicans on Rogers’ panel have indicated that they wanted time with the Defense Secretary. Roger Wicker, a ranking committee member, and Democratic Panel Chair Jack Reed demanded that Austin provide information on the event. Additionally, several GOP legislators, as well as one Democrat, have already called for Austin to step down. However, President Joe Biden has no plans to ask Austin to step down, nor does Austin have any plans to resign. Austin has been working from home in his full capacity as Defense Secretary, but there is no current timetable for him to return to the Pentagon building.
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Source: Black Enterprise