Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue, transfers authorities

Lloyd Austin

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday for symptoms suggesting an “emergent bladder issue,” a Pentagon spokesperson said.

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Austin, 70, returned to the hospital after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in December, according to The Associated Press. He stayed in the hospital for about two weeks after complications from a prostatectomy. Doctors said that “his cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent.”

Austin transfers authorities to deputy

Update 12:29 a.m. EST Feb. 12: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has transferred authorities to his deputy, the Pentagon said late Sunday.

Austin, 70, originally intended to retain the “functions and duties of his office,” but he relinquished them to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks at about 5 p.m. EST, The Associated Press reported.

Austin’s doctors, John Maddox and Gregory Chestnut, said in a statement that Austin was admitted to the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for “supportive care and close monitoring,” according to The Washington Post.

“His cancer prognosis remains excellent,” the doctors said in a statement released at approximately midnight, the newspaper reported. “Updates on the Secretary’s condition will be provided as soon as possible.”

Original report: Austin was released from the hospital on Jan. 15 and had been working at his house during his recovery, CNN reported.

“Today, at approximately 2:20 p.m., Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. “At this time, the secretary 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. Secretary Austin traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.”

The Deputy Defense Secretary is Kathleen Hicks, CNN reported.

Austin was originally released from the hospital on Jan. 15 after the prostate diagnosis and had been working at his house during his recovery, CNN reported.

Austin was criticized last month when he was hospitalized and kept it a secret from top administration officials, including President Joe Biden, The New York Times reported. Other members of the administration, including the secretary of state, the national security adviser and senior officials in the Pentagon, were also kept in the dark, according to the newspaper.

Austin also had not told Biden that he had undergone the original surgery in December, the Times reported.

Austin had been scheduled to travel to a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group this week in Brussels, Belgium, according to CBS News.

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