‘You Embarrassed Us’: GOP Rep. Banks Grills Sec Def Austin On How President Biden Didn’t Notice His Absence

Screenshot / You Are Irrelevant': GOP Rep Grills Sec Def On How President Biden Didn't Notice His Absence / The Daily Caller / Rumble /

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “embarrassed” the U.S. while the Pentagon’s top civilian was in the hospital for three days without the president’s knowledge, Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana said at a hearing Thursday.

An internal 30-day review of the incident found that Austin’s authorities were transferred to his deputy with no break in command over the Pentagon as soon as Austin was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 1 and transferred to the critical care unit on Jan. 2, where he would not have access to secure communications. But, President Joe Biden did not learn of Austin’s medical complications or hospitalization until Jan. 4generating worries President Joe Biden, as the commander in chief of the U.S. military, could not communicate with its principal.

“Our adversaries should fear us. And what you’ve done is embarrassed us,” Banks told Austin. (RELATED: Unprecedented Situation’: Pentagon Spox Struggles To Explain Sec Def’s Behavior During Unknown Hospital Visit)

He asked whether it was typical for the secretary and the president to go days without speaking to one another.

“I mean, that could happen. it depends on whether the president’s on travel or if I’m on travel. There are times when we do go days without direct communication,” Austin clarified.

Austin appeared before a group of House lawmakers for the first time Thursday since his undisclosed hospitalization in January sparked outrage and concern about a breakdown in control over the Department of Defense (DOD).

“The big issue for me here is either the president is that aloof, or you are irrelevant. Which one is, it Mr. Secretary?” Banks responded.

“The President is not aloof and and I am – I participate in in all of the …” Banks cut off the secretary of defense before his question time expired.

Questions were limited to 4 minutes instead of the usual 5, a change House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama said was made to accommodate Austin’s requests.

Austin admitted that Congress had “legitimate questions” around his hospitalization, when lawmakers and top White House and DOD officials were left in the dark and said he did not handle his illness and hospitalization correctly.

“We did have a breakdown in notifications during my January stay … that is sharing my location and why I was there. Back in December, I should have probably informed the President, Congress and the American people of my cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment,” he said.


A final unclassified summary of the Pentagon’s internal review, disclosed Monday, denied there was any intention to cover up Austin’s illness or hospitalization. Privacy laws and Austin’s unclear medical situation caused confusion among staff over how to handle his emergency hospitalization, it said.

“I think they made the right decision,” Austin said when asked about how his staff took initiative to transfer authorities to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

Austin transferred some of his authorities to the Pentagon’s second-in-command for days without disclosing to key officials, including the deputy defense secretary, that he had been hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Kelly Magsamen, Austin’s chief of staff, said in a memo. Austin’s second-in-command, Hicks, had carried out some routine duties on his behalf while on vacation in Puerto Rico, seemingly without knowing that her boss was out of commission.

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