Joe Biden Chides Defense Chief Lloyd Austin Over Hospitalisation Row, But Backs Him

Biden Chides Defense Chief Austin Over Hospitalisation Row, But Backs Him

US President Joe Biden said Friday he remained confident in his Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.


US President Joe Biden said Friday he remained confident in his Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, though he lamented the Pentagon chief’s lapse in judgment in keeping him in the dark over his ongoing hospitalization.

Austin has been hospitalized since January 1 for complications from prostate cancer treatment, but did not inform the White House or Congress for several days after he was admitted, sparking calls for him to resign and raising questions about his role in national security issues.

When asked if it was a lapse in judgment for Austin not to have told him, Biden said “Yes.” Reporters probed further and asked the Democratic president if he remained confident in his defense secretary. “I do,” he replied.

Earlier Friday, the White House said Austin worked from his hospital bed as American and British forces readied for strikes against Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

“He was fully engaged even from his hospital bed,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC, adding that Austin “was involved actively and intimately all day yesterday with the national security team here at the White House and of course with the commander-in-chief, with President Biden.”

“The president has made it clear: Secretary Austin is his defense secretary, will remain his defense secretary. He has full faith and confidence in Secretary Austin and his leadership,” Kirby said.

“That leadership… was on display to everybody in the national security team as he in a hospital bed still leading and commanding our forces in some dangerous missions here,” he added.

The Huthis have carried out a growing number of drone and missile strikes on the key international route through the Red Sea since the Gaza war erupted with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel.

The rebels ignored a warning from the United States and other countries last week of consequences if they did not halt the attacks, and Washington and London’s forces carried out strikes against dozens of targets in Yemen overnight.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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