Trump calls for Lloyd Austin to be fired for going ‘missing for a week’

Trump calls for Lloyd Austin to be fired for going ‘missing for a week’

Donald Trump has lashed out at defence secretary Lloyd Austin, saying that he should be fired “immediately” for going “missing for one week” of work.

The former president took to Truth Social on Sunday night to rant about the Biden administration official, as questions continue to mount about the secrecy surrounding last week’s hospital stay.

“Failed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should be fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty. He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be” he wrote.

Mr Trump went on to use the opportunity to launch a fresh attack on former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Mark Milley – a Trump administration appointee who the former president has since said deserves to be executed.

“He has performed poorly, and should have been dismissed long ago, along with “General” Mark Milley, for many reasons, but in particular the catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our Country!” he fumed.

The fallout continues to grow over Mr Austin’s mystery hospitalisation after it emerged that neither the White House nor his deputy secretary of defence were told about it for several days.

The defence secretary was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on New Year’s Day after suffering complications from a recent elective medical procedure, the Pentagon announced on Friday.

Lloyd Austin conceded he could have ‘done a better job’ in being transparent about his hospital stay (AP)
Lloyd Austin conceded he could have ‘done a better job’ in being transparent about his hospital stay (AP)

During his time in hospital, he spent four days in the intensive care unit and was unable to perform his duties from New Year’s Day through to Friday, defence officials said.

But, despite the Pentagon chief being out of action for four days at a time of growing conflict in the Middle East, there appears to have been a major breakdown in communication within the ranks of the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden wasn’t told of his hospitalisation until Thursday – three days after he was admitted on Monday – when national security adviser Jake Sullivan told him, three sources told The Associated Press.

Deputy secretary of defence Kathleen Hicks also only found out that day – despite her being assigned some of Mr Austin’s duties in his absence on Tuesday, according to a senior defence official.

She was on vacation in Puerto Rico at the time.

When she finally learned the real reason for taking on some of the tasks, the official said she made plans to return to Washington DC.

But, on Friday, she was informed that Mr Austin would fully resume duties that day – and so she decided not to return.

Mr Austin released a statement on Saturday evening conceding that he could have “done a better job” in being transparent about his hospital stay.

“I am very glad to be on the mend and look forward to returning to the Pentagon soon,” he said.

“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.”

The details of his medical care and how serious his illness was remain unknown.

While he resumed authority on Friday, he remained a patient at Walter Reed as of Sunday.