Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has launched a formal inquiry into Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin’s III failure to disclose his hospitalization and incapacitation.
In letters addressed to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, and Secretary Austin’s Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen, Chairman Rogers is seeking information and full transparency on the events that transpired during Secretary Austin’s hospitalization.
In the letter to Secretary Austin, Chairman Rogers wrote, “Everything from on-going counterterrorism operations to nuclear command and control relies on a clear understanding of the Secretary’s decision-making capacity. The Department is a robust institution, and it is designed to function under attack by our enemies, but it is not designed for a Secretary who conceals being incapacitated.”
In the letter to Deputy Secretary Hicks, Chairman Rogers wrote, “It is vitally important for the President, high-level Administration officials, Department leadership, and Congress to be fully and properly informed of a department head’s ability to perform his appointed job and responsibility of leading the nation’s capability to defend itself. It is mindboggling that the Commander in Chief, was not aware of the location or operational competence of the Secretary of Defense.”
In the letter to Secretary Austin’s Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen, Chairman Rogers wrote, “As Chief of Staff to Secretary Austin, you are ‘responsible for leading the Secretary of Defense’s executive staff and providing counsel and advice to the Secretary on all matters concerning the Department [of Defense].’ It appears you, as the Secretary’s chief of staff, were not made aware until January 2, 2024, of the Secretary’s hospitalization and incapacitation, the day after he was reportedly ‘rushed by ambulance to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.’ According to press reports, you ‘said nothing to White House officials, awaiting updates on the secretary’s medical condition,’ and failed to ‘notify the White House until two days later,’ including the National Security Advisor the President of the United States.”
The full text of all three letters can be found below:
Letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III
Letter to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks
Letter to Secretary Austin’s Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen