Dem Rep. Abigail Spanberger Calls Out Defense Secretary’s Secret Hospitalization

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Democratic Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger called out Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin’s secret hospitalization on Monday, telling CNN that the situation was handled inappropriately.

The Pentagon revealed Friday that Austin was admitted to Walter Reed hospital on Monday for unspecified complications related to an elective medical procedure.

The White House National Security Council said Saturday that they were not notified of Austin’s hospitalization until Thursday evening, while Department of Defense leadership and Congress were not notified until Friday.

“Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin … is facing a lot of criticism this morning for keeping White House officials, his own deputy, the president in the dark for days about this hospital stay. He remains in the hospital. You sit on the Intelligence Committee. We are in the midst of — obviously the war in Ukraine continues, but also what may be an expanding conflict in the Middle East. Do you think it is appropriate how this was handled?” CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked.

“No, I think it’s appropriate and the right step forward that he has taken ownership and asserted this was a mistake,” Spanberger said.

“I think that once he’s fully returned to the job, a conversation as to why this decision was made is one that in an after-action report and understanding is an important conversation to have,” she continued. “But I do hope that every person in the cabinet recognizes that this was not an appropriate step, not an appropriate way to handle what was his hospitalization and hopefully there will be greater transparency at least within the administration.”

Lloyd issued a statement Saturday saying he commits to “doing better” and recognizes he “could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed.” (RELATED: ‘Dereliction Of Duty’: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Draws Fire Over Handling Of Undisclosed Medical Condition)

“But this is important to say: this was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure,” Austin’s statement read.

Austin was in the intensive care unit for four days and remained in the hospital on Saturday, NBC News reported, citing two administration officials.

The defense secretary says he looks forward to returning to the Pentagon “soon.”