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Attorney General Merrick Garland resumes duties following ‘minimally invasive back procedure’

Attorney General Merrick Garland has resumed his official duties after undergoing a “minimally invasive back procedure” Saturday, according to a Department of Justice spokesperson.

“The Attorney General’s procedure went well and he’s recovering at home. He has resumed his duties,” Xochitl Hinojosa, director of public affairs for the DOJ, wrote in an email.

The DOJ announced ahead of the procedure that, while Garland would be under anesthesia for “about 90 minutes,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco would assume his duties “shortly before the procedure, during the procedure, and for a brief period following the procedure to allow for recovery from general anesthesia.”

This comes after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent hospitalization was not disclosed to the media or to President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials for days.

The defense secretary returned to work at the Pentagon on Monday. He was admitted to the hospital on New Year’s Day due to complications from surgery to treat prostate cancer in late December.

Austin’s unannounced hospitalization raised major questions about transparency and communication within the Biden administration. The White House last month issued new guidelines for agency notification of key absences following its review of each federal agency’s plans for “delegation of authority” when a Cabinet member is unable to perform his or her duties.

Additionally, Austin’s chief of staff directed a 30-day review of the Pentagon’s procedures for notifying senior national security leaders and the White House when the defense secretary needs to transfer authorities to the deputy secretary, which was required during Austin’s hospitalization. The Defense Department inspector general also launched a separate investigation into whether the Pentagon had the appropriate policies in place to ensure an effective transfer of power and duties.

CNN’s Oren Lieberman and Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this report.

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