4 Aides to Austin Waited 2 Days to Tell White House About His Hospitalization

Four top aides to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III were informed last Tuesday that he had been hospitalized a day earlier but did not notify the White House until two days later, the Pentagon said on Monday.

The aides were made aware last Tuesday that Mr. Austin was rushed by ambulance to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., but said nothing to White House officials, awaiting updates on the secretary’s medical condition, Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.

In addition to General Ryder, the aides are Kelly E. Magsamen, Mr. Austin’s chief of staff, and Lt. Gen. Ronald Clark, the secretary’s senior military aide. General Ryder said that a fourth aide, Chris Meagher, the assistant to the secretary for public affairs, notified him.

Mr. Austin remained in the hospital on Monday but was in “good condition” and conducting official business, General Ryder said. The Pentagon has declined to disclose details of the medical procedure.

Despite criticism of how the situation has been handled, President Biden has full confidence in his defense secretary, said John F. Kirby, a White House national security spokesman.

“The president’s No. 1 focus is on the secretary’s recovery, and he looks forward to having him back at the Pentagon as soon as possible,” he said. “The president respects the fact that Secretary Austin took ownership for the lack of transparency. He also respects the amazing job he’s done.”

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