NBC News chief correspondent Peter Alexander held Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s feet to the fire on Thursday over his hospitalization scandal.
For the first time since his secret ICU hospitalization, Austin faced reporters and questions about the scandal that erupted last month. The secretary provided few answers, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort from reporters like Alexander.
About halfway through the press conference, Alexander confronted Austin with the toughest question of the day:
You were hospitalized for days before you informed the White House or the commander in chief of your condition and your absence. Anyone else within the military chain of command would have faced reprimand or even dismissal. Why shouldn’t that same standard apply to you, sir?
Austin, unfortunately, did not answer the question.
While in the same breath claiming that he takes “full responsibility” for the scandal — in which he kept President Joe Biden and senior members of the U.S. government in the dark about his hospitalization — Austin said that he is not “sure, at this point, what exactly happened” but promised more answers once the Pentagon inspector general finishes a “review” of the incident.
Austin, then, provided zero reasons for why the same standard applied to military personnel should not be applied to him.
That was his modus operandi at the press conference.
Reporters asked Austin specific questions about his involvement in the hospital cover-up, and he denied any responsibility for the specific decisions that were made and resulted in the secret hospitalization. Instead, he repeatedly deferred to the IG’s “review.”
Unfortunately for the American people, it will take months — at the very least — before the IG completes his investigation.
Meanwhile, Austin has been summoned to Capitol Hill to testify in two weeks about the scandal before the House Armed Services Committee. However, he has not yet agreed to testify, according to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
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