Former President Donald Trump is reportedly furious over the lack of notification to Congress, the Pentagon, or the White House regarding the critical hospitalization of America’s Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, last week.
Alleging that Austin’s decision to withhold information jeopardized national security, Trump is now calling for the immediate termination of the Secretary of Defense.
Trump, known for his iconic catchphrase, “You’re fired,” wasted no time expressing his disapproval of the communications lapse, deeming Austin’s secretive actions particularly concerning as even his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, was reportedly unaware of the secretary’s admission to the intensive care unit.
Taking to his Truth Social platform, the former president criticized the incident as an embarrassing episode for the White House.
Trump wrote: “Failed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should be fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty.”
Trump continued: “He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be.”
“He has performed poorly, and should have been dismissed long ago, along with ‘General’ Mark Milley, for many reasons, but in particular the catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our Country!” Trump added.
Pres. Trump on the Lloyd Austin scandal:— Daniel Baldwin (@baldwin_daniel_) January 8, 2024
“Failed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should be fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty.” pic.twitter.com/XxxaRpNGK5
Austin was reportedly admitted to Walter Reed Medical Hospital on Jan. 1 for a planned medical procedure but faced unexpected medical complications, the details of which are yet to be disclosed.
Reportedly, Austin informed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs about his hospitalization a day after being placed in the Intensive Care Unit. However, government officials highlight that the chairman is not within the chain of command.
Expressing concern, leaders stated that they were not apprised of Austin’s medical condition until Friday. According to Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, delayed notifying Congress of Austin’s health status until Friday due to her own illness, preventing her from making timely notifications.
The New York Post verified that Austin did not inform President Biden during the three days of his hospitalization. The extent to which Austin delegated duties to Hicks or remained involved in major decisions during his hospital stay remains unclear.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, echoing Trump’s sentiments, criticized the breach of protocol during a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union”, he said:
“To think that at a time when we have allies at war in Eastern Europe and here in Israel, that the leader of America’s military at the Pentagon would be out of commission for a number of days, and the President of the United States didn’t know about it.”
Pence added: “I think it was a dereliction of duty and the secretary and the administration, frankly, need to step forward and give the American people the facts.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MI), the leading Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized the Pentagon for its secretive actions, contributing to the escalating distrust in the Biden administration. Wicker posted on X:
“When one of our country’s two National Command authorities is unable to perform their duties, military families, members of Congress, and the American people deserve to know the full extent of the circumstances.”
When one of the country’s two National Command Authorities is unable to perform their duties, military families, Members of Congress, and the American public deserve to know the full extent of the circumstances. https://t.co/sQOtWAq8GM— Senator Roger Wicker (@SenatorWicker) January 8, 2024
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, conveyed to Axios that Austin “has been a disaster since Day One and should be replaced by someone who will focus on making the military ready to fight and win wars instead of advancing woke political causes of the Biden [administration].”
A Pentagon official, acknowledging to CNN, revealed there were “strict orders to not contact him and let [Austin] rest” during his hospitalization. Austin missed his daily contact with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, last week, according to the official. The official commented, “There are all of these people around the secretary at all times, who manage him and help him on a day-to-day basis, and no one had the wherewithal to even tell the White House? I’m surprised no one is using the word ‘cover-up’ yet.”
Official Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Ryder reported, “Since resuming his duties on Friday evening, the secretary has received operational updates and has provided necessary guidance to his team.” Ryder added that Austin “has no plans to resign” and emphasized that the Pentagon is “considering the impact of any statutory reporting requirements and will provide updates as appropriate.”
In response to calls for Austin’s resignation on Monday, a White House official stated, “The President has full trust and confidence in Secretary Austin. He’s looking forward to him being back at the Pentagon.”
Per CNN, Austin had a “surgery.”— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) January 8, 2024
Staff were under “strict orders to not contact him.” Expected to be out all week.
Normal calls with the Israeli defense minister did not happen last week.
Not clear whether he was ever unconscious or incapacitated.
A strike against pro-Iran… pic.twitter.com/6Xw2hPuvzX