Austin’s hospital debacle: A timeline of events

— Austin has an elective medical procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The Pentagon doesn’t inform the White House or Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, but certain operational authorities are transferred to her.

Saturday, Dec. 23

— Austin returns home after the procedure.

Monday, Jan. 1

— Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with Austin.

— Austin joins a virtual White House meeting about the situation in the Middle East.

— That evening, Austin experiences severe pain due to complications from the earlier procedure and is taken by ambulance back to Walter Reed.

Tuesday, Jan. 2

— Austin’s top staffers and press officials, including DOD spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press chief Chris Meagher and DOD Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen learn that Austin is in the hospital.

— Gen. CQ Brown, the Joint Chiefs chair, is also informed of the hospitalization.

— Hicks, who is vacationing in Puerto Rico, is informed that she’ll be assuming some of Austin’s duties but does not know he’s in the hospital. Staff for Austin and Hicks, along with the Joint Staff, are informed of the transfer through “regular email notification procedures.”

Thursday, Jan. 4

— Magsamen, who was ill that week, informs Hicks and national security adviser Jake Sullivan of Austin’s hospitalization. Sullivan briefs President Joe Biden right after.

— That afternoon, Magsamen and Hicks begin drafting a public statement. Hicks begins planning to return to Washington but opts to remain in place after learning Austin will fully resume his duties the next day.

— The military conducts a retaliatory strike in Baghdad, killing a militia leader that it blamed for carrying out recent attacks against U.S. personnel in the region. Defense Department officials say Austin authorized the operation in December.

Friday, Jan. 5

— In the afternoon, Magsamen notifies the secretaries of the military departments and principal staff assistants of Austin’s hospitalization.

— Shortly before 5 p.m., the Pentagon notifies Congress about Austin’s hospitalization.

— At 5:03 p.m., Ryder releases a public statement disclosing that Austin had been admitted to Walter Reed and was expected to return to his full duties that day.

Saturday, Jan. 6

— Austin releases a statement saying that he “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.”

— Biden holds a “cordial conversation” with Austin.

— Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, calls for lawmakers to be briefed “immediately” on the situation.

Sunday, Jan. 7

— House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) call on Austin to provide Congress with “additional details on his health and the decision-making process that occurred in the past week as soon as possible.”

— Austin speaks with Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

— At 4:24 p.m., Ryder releases an update disclosing that Austin remains hospitalized and that he’s been in contact with Biden, Hicks, Brown and his senior staff.

Monday, Jan. 8

— House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, the No. 4 Republican in the lower chamber, becomes the highest-ranking lawmaker to call for Austin to be fired.

— The White House says the administration will review what rules and procedures weren’t followed in the episode and that Austin retains Biden’s confidence.

— Ryder holds a briefing to provide fuller details about the episode, and he acknowledges he knew Jan. 2 of Austin’s hospitalization. He apologizes, pledging to keep the Pentagon press corps better informed.

Matt Berg, Joe Gould, Alexander Ward, Connor O’Brien and Lara Seligman contributed to this report.

Source:Politico