Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is under increasing criticism after keeping the White House and the National Security Council in the dark for days about his hospitalization.
Austin has taken responsibility for not being more transparent after the public was not notified until Friday evening that he was hospitalized Monday for complications from an elective procedure. Some officials have speculated that someone will lose their job after the incident after top U.S. officials were initially informed he was working from home and they reportedly were not aware of his condition until Thursday, per CNN.
“Someone’s head has to roll,” a Defense Department official told Politico on Sunday.
“Not telling the [White House], Congress or the media he is sick, and then telling Pentagon staff he is working from home is next level. This is a problem,” a former senior Defense official said. “Someone made the decision not to disclose. That person will likely be gone shortly.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he wishes Austin well, but he expressed concerns about the secretary’s response to the situation.
“The handling of this by the secretary of defense is totally unacceptable. And I believe the American people have a right to know about his medical condition, about the reasons for it. And he has a right to know who was informed of his incapacity,” Pence said. “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.”
Former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said Sunday on X, formerly Twitter: “Last week the Secretary of Defense was hospitalized under the cover of darkness. At the same time last week Joe Biden was getting a sunburn on vacation in the Caribbean. Who then in the continental United States was in charge of the nuclear codes last week?”
North Carolina Sen. Ted Budd, a Republican, called the news about Austin “extremely troubling” and said the American people “need a full explanation about this breach of the public trust.”