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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Agrees To Testify Before House On Secret Hospitalization

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has agreed to testify before Congress about his failure to immediately inform the White House of his prostate cancer diagnosis and emergency hospital stay last month.

Austin is set to testify before the House armed services committee on Feb. 29, a committee spokesperson confirmed to severalmediaoutlets this week. HuffPost has contacted the spokesperson for more details.

The former Army general, 70, was hospitalized on Jan. 1 after experiencing complications from a surgery, but his aides failed to inform White House officials about the hospitalization until Jan. 4. Austin admitted to some missteps at the time, saying he recognized he “could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed.”

He returned to work on Jan. 29 and issued a more direct apology three days later.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivers remarks during a meeting with Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Duale at the Pentagon on Feb. 7.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivers remarks during a meeting with Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Duale at the Pentagon on Feb. 7.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivers remarks during a meeting with Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Duale at the Pentagon on Feb. 7.

“I want to be crystal clear: We did not handle this right,” Austin said during a press conference at the Pentagon. “I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.”

As evidenced in audio of the 911 call on New Year’s Day, Austin’s team tried to keep his medical issue as quiet as possible. In the recording, obtained by The Daily Beast last month through a Freedom of Information Act request, a member of Austin’s team can be heard saying: “Can the ambulance not show up with lights and sirens? We’re trying to remain a little subtle.”

House armed services Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) launched a formal inquiry into Austin’s disclosure failure last month, and requested that he testify before the committee on the matter.

“Maintaining the most ready and lethal force possible requires that everyone in the national security community be able to rely upon the Secretary of Defense’s availability and transparency,” Rogers wrote in his four-page letter to Austin. “Regrettably, you have not exhibited these attributes throughout this most recent string of events.”

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