US defense chief Lloyd Austin released from hospital

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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been released from Walter Reed hospital, he said Monday, after two weeks of treatment that he initially concealed from other top officials including U.S. President Joe Biden, leading to calls for his removal from office.

Austin kept Biden and lawmakers in the dark about being diagnosed with prostate cancer for weeks, and did not inform them for days about his hospitalization on Jan.1 for complications from his treatment.

While the situation has been a headache for Biden, putting him on the defense and providing an opening for Republican attacks in an election year, the president has resisted pressure to part ways with the secretary.

“As I continue to recuperate and perform my duties from home, I’m eager to fully recover and return as quickly as possible to the Pentagon,” he said.

Austin, a 70-year-old career soldier, underwent minor surgery to treat the cancer on Dec. 22, returning home the following day.

But he was readmitted due to complications including nausea and severe pain on Jan. 1.

The White House was not informed about Austin’s hospitalization until Jan.4, while Congress was not told until the following day, and Biden did not learn of the cancer diagnosis until Jan. 9.

In response, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients ordered an urgent review of the rules for when senior U.S. officials are incapacitated, as did Austin’s chief of staff Kelly Magsamen.

The Pentagon’s independent inspector general also announced a review “to examine the roles, processes, procedures, responsibilities, and actions related to the secretary of defense’s hospitalization” in both December and January.

Biden said Friday he remained confident in Austin, though he lamented the Pentagon chief’s lapse in judgment in failing to inform him about the hospitalization.

Lloyd James Austin, US, hospitalized,

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