Democrat claims he would fire Austin in 'about five minutes'

 January 14, 2024

Representative Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, voiced on Friday that if he were President Biden, he would terminate Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in light of the controversy surrounding Austin's delayed disclosure of hospitalization and cancer diagnosis.

Moulton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, condemned the situation as "completely unacceptable" and emphasized that such a breakdown in communication within the military chain of command would be unimaginable even at lower levels.

The situation

While acknowledging that the decision ultimately rests with the president, Moulton urged Biden to send a clear message to prevent a recurrence.

When asked about the action he would take if he were the president, Moulton straightforwardly stated that he would dismiss Austin's position within about five minutes.

“What he did is completely unacceptable. I can’t imagine that happening at the lowest levels of the military chain of command, like where I was, as a mere lieutenant platoon commander in Iraq," the congressman said.

"I can’t even imagine it happening when I was a 15-year-old busboy. If I was going to be out for a week, I had to tell my boss. So, this is a major breakdown in the chain of command and the commander-in-chief needs to make a decision here. It’s up to the President as to whether he fires Secretary Austin, but I’ll tell you what, he needs to send a decisive message that this is never going to happen again," he added.

Republicans agree

Although some Congressional Democrats have raised concerns about Austin's handling of the situation, they have refrained from calling for his removal.

Several Republicans have called for his resignation, accusing him of dereliction of duty for failing to promptly inform key officials of his absence.

Rep. Chris Deluzio, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, called for Austin's resignation.

Austin's health

Austin, diagnosed with prostate cancer in December, underwent surgery on December 22. The president was only informed of the cancer diagnosis this week.

Austin was hospitalized on January 1 with a urinary tract infection, temporarily delegating his authorities to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

Biden and Hicks were not informed of the hospitalization until January 4. Austin resumed his duties on January 5, convalescing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Despite acknowledging transparency concerns, Austin has pledged to improve, and Biden expressed confidence in him but noted a lapse in judgment regarding the delayed notification. Moulton conveyed sympathy for Austin's situation but underscored the significance of national security and troop supervision.

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