President Trump posted a statement on Truth Social Sunday night calling on Joe Biden to fire Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for “improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty.”
Austin, 70, has served as secretary of Defense since the start of the Biden administration in January, 2021. Austin has come under fire after the Pentagon revealed Friday he had been secretly seriously ill in an ICU since Monday without informing Joe Biden, White House staff or Congress for three or four days, respectively.
President Joe Biden salutes alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin before delivering an address at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, May 2021. (Getty/Mandel Ngan/AFP)
Austin’s job is reportedly safe for now, with Biden having spoken with him by phone on Saturday.
Trump posted, “Failed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should be fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty. He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be. He has performed poorly, and should have been dismissed long ago, along with “General” Mark Milley, for many reasons, but in particular the catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our Country!”
Austin had an elective medical procedure on December 22 and was taken to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland because of severe pain according to a Pentagon statement released Sunday evening to reporters. The statement also said Austin was treated in the ICU and is remaining in the ICU for “privacy” even though he no longer needs that level of care.
Three days after his December 22nd medical procedure, pro-Hamas protesters staged a dawn protest on Christmas Day at Austin’s Falls Church, Virginia home (it is not known if Austin was at home then):
BREAKING! Activists send Xmas morning wake-up call to US Secretary of Defense, @SecDef Lloyd Austin, chanting “AUSTIN, AUSTIN, RISE AND SHINE, NO SLEEP DURING GENOCIDE!” #FreePalestine #ShutItDown4Palestine pic.twitter.com/0Yg9SCFbok
— The People’s Forum (@PeoplesForumNYC) December 25, 2023
Today Palestinian solidarity activists gathered at Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s home to say no Christmas for war criminals! pic.twitter.com/vSovmBnqEp
— DC Young Communist League (@DC_YCL) December 25, 2023
Politico reported on Biden’s phone call with Austin and why his job is considered safe (excerpt):
…Still, Biden held a “cordial conversation” with his defense secretary on Saturday night, per one of the U.S. officials. “The president has complete trust and confidence in Secretary Austin,” the official said. A National Security Council spokesperson echoed that sentiment, noting Biden “is looking forward to [Austin] getting back to the Pentagon.”
Four officials said Austin’s job seemed secure for the moment, especially after the phone call with Biden. They argued that it was a rare blemish in an otherwise strong tenure, namely cajoling Western nations to send advanced weapons to Ukraine, though Austin critics note he oversaw the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The officials also noted that it was an election year, that Biden and Austin are very close due to the former general’s friendship with the president’s late son Beau Biden — they attended Catholic services while serving in Iraq — and that it would be hard to get another Defense secretary confirmed by the Senate.
Sunday night, the Washington Post also reported Austin’s job is safe (excerpt):
A senior official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the situation, noted what he described as “an exceptionally close relationship” between Austin and Biden, whose son Beau served as military lawyer under Austin when he was a top commander in Iraq.
“There’s a lot of trust there on both sides, and this episode has not diminished that trust one bit,” this person said. “The president is looking forward to the secretary’s continued service.”
A White House official said Biden had “full confidence” in Austin and was looking forward to him being back at the Pentagon.
…If Biden himself was frustrated or concerned, he took little noticeable action as a result. On the evening of Jan. 6, after news of Austin’s condition was made public and consternation spread around the capital, Biden spoke by phone with Austin in what officials described as a warm conversation and the president wished him well in his recovery.
Biden has also long felt a sense of loyalty to Austin. After Austin’s return from Iraq, where he attended Catholic Mass with Beau Biden, he and the younger Biden stayed in touch.
The House Armed Services Committee issued a ‘sternly worded’ joint statement on Sunday by Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA):
U.S. Representatives Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Adam Smith (D-WA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement regarding the notification of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s recent hospitalization.
“While we wish Sec. Austin a speedy recovery, we are concerned with how the disclosure of the Secretary’s condition was handled. Several questions remain unanswered including what the medical procedure and resulting complications were, what the Secretary’s current health status is, how and when the delegation of the Secretary’s responsibilities were made, and the reason for the delay in notification to the President and Congress.
“Transparency is vitally important. Sec. Austin must provide these additional details on his health and the decision-making process that occurred in the past week as soon as possible.”
Donald Trump Jr. cut to the heart of the matter in a Sunday afternoon post, “The deep state doesn’t bother telling Biden that his Secretary of Defense was hospitalized and out of commission for 4 days because they know he can’t comprehend what that means anyway and they think they’re the ones in charge and don’t need to follow the legal chain of command!”
The deep state doesn’t bother telling Biden that his Secretary of Defense was hospitalized and out of commission for 4 days because they know he can’t comprehend what that means anyway and they think they’re the ones in charge and don’t need to follow the legal chain of command! https://t.co/D2WENRchzf
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 7, 2024
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