Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Pentagon press briefing at the Pentagon on Feb. 1 in Washington.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was transported to the hospital Sunday afternoon to be seen for “symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“The Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified,” Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said. “Additionally, White House and Congressional notifications have occurred.”
The Sunday afternoon announcement came just weeks after Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December and hospitalized on Dec. 22 for a related procedure.
Austin transferred his authority to his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, the following day, but neither she nor President Biden knew that Austin was in the hospital. He was hospitalized again on Jan. 1 for complications from the first procedure. Biden didn’t learn of the hospitalization until Jan. 4.
Members of Congress blasted Austin for concealing the diagnosis and treatment from the president and lawmakers, prompting the 70-year-old to hold a press conference earlier this month and apologize.
“We did not handle this right and I did not handle this right,” Austin said. “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.”
The Pentagon said Austin’s security detail took him to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday.
Ryder added that Austin was “retaining the functions and duties of his office,” and that the deputy secretary was prepared to assume the role if necessary.