Trump Demands Biden Fire Defense Sec. Austin Over Inappropriate Secrecy

The ex-President and leading 2024 Republican candidate, Donald Trump, called on President Joe Biden to dismiss Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sunday. Trump asserted that the military leadership neglected their duty by concealing Austin’s recent hospitalization from the White House. According to Trump’s statement on Truth Social, Austin has been absent for a week, and even his superior, President Biden, seemed uninformed about his whereabouts.

Trump criticized Austin’s professional performance as “subpar” and insisted that he should have been dismissed “long ago, along with ‘General’ Mark Milley.” The ex-president pointed to the botched and fatal withdrawal from Afghanistan as an additional justification for removing the Secretary of Defense. Trump characterized the handling of the situation as potentially the most humiliating moment in the history of the nation.

Austin received medical care in the intensive care unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for several days without informing the Biden White House, his national security adviser, Congress, or the American public. He was hospitalized on New Year’s Day following an undisclosed recent medical procedure.

CNN disclosed that not even Austin’s deputy, Kathleen Hicks, was informed of his health condition, and she was away on a planned vacation to Puerto Rico.

The Pentagon added to the confusion by citing a need for privacy, further clouding the incident. Austin eventually issued a statement on Saturday, acknowledging that he could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed.

The secretary of defense expressed a commitment to improvement but insisted that it was his medical procedure and his responsibility. Austin went off the radar at a particularly sensitive time given the ongoing proxy war with Iran-backed groups in the Middle East, the Israel-Hamas conflict, and a recent drone strike in Iraq targeting an Iran-backed militia leader.

With Austin potentially incapacitated, questions arose about the authority behind recent actions. Trump and others raised the crucial question of who authorized these actions if Austin was unavailable.




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