U.S. President Joe Biden said Friday that it was a lapse in judgment for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin not to tell him about his hospitalization last week, but he still has confidence in his Pentagon chief.
Speaking to reporters as he toured local businesses outside Allentown, Pennsylvania, Biden said "yes" when asked if it was a lapse in judgment for Austin not to tell him about his condition. He replied, "I do," when asked if he still had confidence in Austin's leadership.
Austin, 70, remains hospitalized as he is being treated for complications from prostate cancer surgery. His failure to disclose his hospitalization has been sharply criticized by members of both political parties and has led to some calls for his resignation.
Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on December 22 and underwent surgery to treat the cancer, which was detected earlier in the month during a routine screening. He developed an infection a week later and was hospitalized January 1 and admitted to intensive care. Biden and senior administration officials were not told about Austin's hospitalization until January 4, and Austin kept the cancer diagnosis secret until Tuesday.