Biden Spox Brushes Off Austin’s AWOL Scandal, Cites Work Done at ‘Staff Level’


(Luis CornelioHeadline USA) National Security Council spokesman John Kirby faced intense questioning regarding the Pentagon and White House scandal stemming from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s secret hospitalization due to prostate cancer. 

During a Sunday interview on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Kirby fielded tough questions about Austin’s failure to inform his deputy, White House defense officials and President Joe Biden about his New Year’s hospitalization. However, Kirby claimed that work is usually done “at the staff level.”

Host Margaret Brennan queried Kirby on the frequency of direct communication between Biden and Austin, given the ongoing military conflicts in the Middle East, Europe and China.

Kirby asserted that there is “routine, regular” communication between Biden and Austin, pointing to the defense secretary’s involvement in approving military strikes against the Yemen-based Houthis.

“I think it’s important for people to remember that the cabinet officials don’t have to sit and talk every single day to make every decision. A lot of the work that gets done in national security is done at the staff level,” Kirby claimed. 

Brennan challenged Kirby by highlighting the fact that Biden was unaware of the hospitalization. She asked, “But there is a chain of command, and the commander-in-chief didn’t know that his defense secretary was ill.” 

Kirby acknowledged the lack of proper communication between the Pentagon and the White House. “That is a problem and the president has spoken to that,” Kirby claimed. “That is not the way it is supposed to be and something we need more answers to and the Pentagon is investigating this and we’ll see what comes out of that. But that is not the way the process is supposed to work, that is right.” 

The scandal surrounding Austin’s hospitalization began when he failed to notify others of his hospitalization on Jan. 1, following a medical procedure.  

Spending three days in the ICU, Austin belatedly informed the White House on Jan. 4 and Congress on Jan. 5, just 15 minutes before publicly announcing the medical procedure. Notably, Austin’s deputy, Kathleen Hicks, was in Puerto Rico when he was hospitalized.  

According to Walter Reed medical officials, Austin had undergone prostate cancer surgery on Dec. 22 but experienced complications, including nausea and various abdominal, hip and leg problems. A subsequent urinary tract infection prompted his transfer to the ICU, where further examination revealed a blockage of his small intestine caused by fluid obstruction.