February 2, 2024

By Jeffrey Rodack


Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., is ripping Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for his “dismissive response to questions on his hospitalization.”

Stefanik, who chairs the House Republican Conference, also demanded his “immediate response to the House Armed Services Committee’s request to testify regarding his clear dereliction of duty.”

“Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s casual dismissal of concerns over his abandonment of duty upon returning to work was both insulting and totally unacceptable,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“His willful refusal to notify the president, the National Security Council, and the American people exposes not only a lack of serious judgment but a clear dereliction of duty and erosion of the American people’s trust.

“As our nation is embroiled in multiple conflicts overseas, thanks to Joe Biden’s weak global leadership, it has never been more imperative to have a Secretary of Defense that is transparent and trusted.

“The American people deserve accountability. Secretary Austin must stop stonewalling our Congressional investigation and agree to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on February 14th.”

Austin said Thursday he never directed anyone on his staff not to tell the White House he’d been hospitalized and takes full responsibility for keeping President Joe Biden in the dark for weeks that he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to The Associated Press.

“We did not handle this right and I did not handle this right. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I take full responsibility,” he said.

“The news shook me,” Austin, 70, said when he first got the diagnosis. “Frankly my first instinct was to keep it private.”

Speaking to reporters in the Pentagon briefing room, it was the first time he had answered questions from reporters since being rushed back to the hospital on Jan. 1.

“I never directed anyone to keep my January hospitalization from the White House,” Austin said.