Austin says he mishandled hospitalization but never directed staff to hide it

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin admitted he was wrong to hide his cancer diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization, though he maintained he never directed his staff to hide his trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The secretary was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December, had surgery to treat it on Dec. 22, 2023, and was hospitalized with complications on Jan. 1. He stayed in the hospital for two weeks. He briefly gave up some of his authorities to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, while the White House, Congress, and the public were not notified of his hospitalization for days.

“I never directed anyone” to hide the January hospitalization from the White House, he told reporters on Thursday, his first time taking questions from the press since his hospitalization. “To answer your question on whether or
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