Lloyd Austin
Lloyd AustinREUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from a Washington-area hospital Monday, two weeks after experiencing complications from surgery to treat prostate cancer — and keeping it from President Biden andhis subordinates at the Pentagon. According to the New York Post, he had been hospitalized on January 1st at Walter Reed National Military Hospital due to a complication from a prostatectomy performed on December 22, 2023, but did not pass on the information to the White House until January 4th.

His duties were performed by Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks in his absence, although he did not disclose the reason why. Hicks would not find out the reason for two more days. The Pentagon announced the hospitalization on January 5th, but the full story was not released until a statement by Walter Reed doctors last Tuesday.

According to the report, the statement came as a surprise to both the Pentagon and the White House, and caused significant outrage on Capitol Hill. Some lawmakers called for Austin to resign, saying that it was unacceptable for the Defense Secretary to disappear while the United States of America is heavily involved in wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The White House expressed support for Austin, with President Biden saying that he still had confidence in Austin despite agreeing that the Secretary had made a lapse in judgement, and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby telling MSNBC Friday: “We’re all going to learn from this event, but the defense secretary’s going to stay in office.”

“I’m grateful for the excellent care I received at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and want to thank the outstanding doctors and nursing staff for their professionalism and superb support. I also am thankful and appreciative for all the well wishes I received for a speedy recovery. Now, as I continue to recuperate and perform my duties from home, I’m eager to fully recover and return as quickly as possible to the Pentagon.” said Austin.

Doctors said that Austin would need a period of physical therapy and would have to work remotely, but is expected to make a full recovery.