Defense Sec. Austin back in hospital for bladder issue, transfers powers to Hicks: Pentagon officials

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is back in the hospital at Walter Reed for an “emergent bladder issue,” and has transferred his powers to the deputy press secretary, according to Pentagon officials.Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder confirmed Austin was at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, adding that the deputy defense secretary, joint chiefs of staff, White House and Congress have all been notified.In a statement, Ryder said Austin was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed at about 2:20 p.m. on Sunday, adding that he is retaining the functions and duties of his office.”The Deputy Secretary is prepared to assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense, if required,” the statement read. “Secretary Austin traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.”HOUSE LAWMAKERS TO GRILL DEFENSE SECRETARY LLOYD AUSTIN ON SECRET HOSPITALIZATIONBut just before 5 p.m., those duties and functions were transferred to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, Ryder later said.Austin was expected to leave Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday morning to travel to Brussels for the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Wednesday and the NATO Defense Ministerial on Thursday.It is too soon to tell if Austin will be able to travel, a senior U.S. defense official said, adding his doctors are assessing the secretary’s condition.In December, Austin was admitted to Walter Reed and underwent prostate cancer surgery. He developed an infection a week later and was readmitted to the hospital.DEFENSE SEC. AUSTIN APOLOGIZED DIRECTLY TO BIDEN OVER HOSPITALIZATION CONTROVERSY: ‘DID NOT HANDLE THIS RIGHT’ President Biden and other senior administration officials were not told for days about his hospitalization or his cancer.Despite being admitted to Walter Reed on Jan.1, the Pentagon didn’t inform the public, press or Congress until Jan. 5. WHITE HOUSE ESTABLISHES GUIDELINES FOR CABINET NOTIFICATIONS FOLLOWING AUSTIN’S HOSPITALIZATION CONTROVERSYOfficials also acknowledged that the White House had not been informed about Austin’s hospitalization until Jan. 4. On Feb. 1, Austin said he apologized directly to President Biden for not giving advance notice about his hospitalization for prostate cancer treatment.”I want to be crystal clear. We did not handle this right and I did not handle this right,” Austin said during a press briefing on Feb. 1, regarding his previous hospitalization. “I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.”
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