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Biden isn't considering firing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, White House official says

New questions about Austin's hospitalization
Biden says he supports Austin despite being left in dark about hospitalization 02:26

President Biden is not considering firing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after he and other Pentagon officials failed to report his hospitalization to the White House for days, a White House official told CBS News. 

Lloyd was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last week after suffering complications from an elective surgical procedure, and even Mr. Biden wasn't informed he was in intensive care for days. Austin is recovering, but the Pentagon hasn't disclosed details of Austin's ailment. 

The Pentagon said Austin underwent the elective surgery on Dec. 22, and he went home the next day. But on New Year's Day, Austin began to experience severe pain and was admitted to intensive care. He transferred some of his duties to his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, but neither she nor the White House were informed of his hospitalization at the time.

Austin said in a statement that he recognizes he "could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed" and added, "I commit to doing better." 

Reuters first reported Mr. Biden isn't considering removing Austin as defense secretary. 

A defense official said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown was informed that Austin was in the hospital on Jan. 2. But Brown, the president's principal military adviser, did not inform the White House. 

Over the weekend, after Austin's hospitalization and his failure to report his condition to the White House was made public, the White House insisted the president has "full confidence" in Austin. 

Austin has now resumed his full duties. 

But he's facing criticism from some Republicans in Congress for the failure to report his condition. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the GOP conference chair, called for his resignation.

"It is shocking and absolutely unacceptable that the Department of Defense waited multiple days to notify the president, the National Security Council, and the American people that Defense Secretary Austin was hospitalized and unable to perform his duties," she said. 

Weijia Jiang and David Martin contributed to this report.

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