DOJ Announces Merrick Garland’s Surgery After Lloyd Austin Debacle

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John Oyewale Contributor
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Attorney General Merrick Garland will temporarily step aside from his duties due to an impending back surgery scheduled for Saturday.

Garland will undergo a 90-minute “minimally invasive” lower back surgery under general anesthesia for stenosis, Justice Department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said Monday, according to the Washington Post. Garland reportedly will hand over duties to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco before leaving for the procedure.

Garland is expected to return home Saturday after the “interlaminar decompression” surgery and to resume work next week, the report noted.

Lumbar spinal stenosis—a narrowing of the lower back’s spinal canal—mostly results from age-related osteoarthritis and mounts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, leading to difficulty in walking long distances, pain, numbness, and in the most severe cases incontinence, according to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. (RELATED: Pentagon Reveals What Sent Lloyd Austin To The Hospital)

High-ranking government officials are required to disclose that they would undergo medical treatment if a health concern would impair their official duties, the Washington Post report noted.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was secretly hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for four days for an elective procedure later revealed to be treatment for a urinary tract infection sequel to a Dec. 22 prostate cancer surgery. Neither the White House nor Austin’s deputy Kathleen Hicks reportedly knew of the hospitalization until Jan. 5, four days after Austin was taken to the hospital on New Year’s Day. The White House also reportedly did not know of the prostate cancer surgery until Jan. 8.

Austin came under fire for the late disclosure and the situation sparked off fresh concerns over President Joe Biden’s health status and competence. He later apologized, acknowledging he “could have done a better job” and promising “to do better.”

The White House announced Austin would retain his position, but also reactively updated the protocols for delegation of authority, while the Pentagon announced it would probe its handling of the situation.