Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Testifies It Is Common to ‘Go Days’ Without Speaking to Biden

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listens to US President Joe Biden deliver
Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testified to Congress on Thursday that it is common for him to go for “days” without speaking to President Joe Biden.

“Is it typical that the president would go three days without talking to his secretary of defense…Do you usually go days without talking to the commander in chief?” House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN) asked Austin during the hearing, which focused on his failure to tell the commander in chief for three days that he was in the hospital.

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US Department of Defense via Storyful

“I mean, that can happen,” Austin responded. “It depends on whether or not the president’s on travel, or if I’m on travel. There are times when we do go days without direct communication.”

Banks responded, “So the big issue for me here is that either the president is that aloof, or you are irrelevant. Which one is it?”

Austin claimed, “Neither. The president is not aloof and I am — I participate in all of the, uh, critical decision-making process.”

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Austin’s admission came during a congressional hearing on his failure to inform Biden, the commander in chief, of his hospitalization until after three full days of being in the hospital.

Austin did not specify how often it was that he went for “days” without speaking to Biden, but as Breitbart News previously reported, Biden spent 37 percent of 2023 out of the White House at his Delaware beach home, Camp David, or on vacation, and 38 percent of 2022 out of the White House.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden sit under an umbrella at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on August 2, 2023. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden sit under an umbrella at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on August 2, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) called it “very concerning” and “very disturbing” that no one at the White House noticed Austin’s absence — amid two wars and U.S. troops being under attack in Iraq and Syria.

“Wars were raging in Ukraine and Israel. Our ships were under fire in the Red Sea. And our bases were bracing for attack in Syria and Iraq. But the commander in chief did not know that his Secretary of Defense was out of action,” Rogers said.

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“Our forces conducted a preauthorized strike on Iranian-backed militia in Iraq during this period. Had something going wrong with the strike, or worse, if there was an attack on the United States, precious time would have been wasted while the President sought in vain to find his Secretary of Defense. The chain of command doesn’t work when the commander in chief doesn’t know who to call,” Rogers said.

“I find it very concerning that the secretary could be hospitalized for three days without anyone else in the administration even noticing. That suggests Secretary Austin’s advice is not sought or heeded in the White House even while military operations were ongoing in the Middle East,” he added.

“It also implies that the White House politicals, not seasoned defense professionals, are in the driver’s seat on matters of national security, which is very disturbing,” Rogers concluded.

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