White House: Joe Biden ‘Continues to Have Complete Confidence’ in Lloyd Austin

Lloyd Austin and Joe Biden
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday said President Joe Biden “continues to have complete confidence” in Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin even after he was admitted on January 1 to the intensive care unit — where he remains — but did not alert Biden of his condition until Thursday, January 4.

A reporter asked Jean-Pierre, “Should the American people have confidence in Austin, given his lack of transparency?”

Jean-Pierre then claimed that Austin had “taken responsibility” by issuing a statement on Saturday.

In that statement, Austin said:

I want to thank the amazing doctors and nursing staff at Walter Reed for the exceptional care they have delivered to me and for the personal warmth they have shown my family. I also appreciate all the outreach and well wishes from colleagues and friends. Charlene and I are very grateful for your support.

I am very glad to be on the mend and look forward to returning to the Pentagon soon.

I also understand the media concerns about transparency and I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better.

But this is important to say: this was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.

Jean-Pierre continued:

So, I want to go back to Austin’s statement a couple of days ago, where he has taken responsibility, and so I think that’s important, so I would point you to that. And I will just reiterate that the president has complete confidence, continues to have confidence in Secretary Austin.

“We want to see him get well and back at the Pentagon,” she said, adding that Biden and Austin had a “very good” conversation on Saturday.

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