Even ‘Morning Joe’ Has Questions About Defense Sec’s Job Security After Secret ICU Stay
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 12: Joe Scarborough takes part in "The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-To-Peer Conversations" at The National Archives on July 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/WireImage)
Shannon Finney/WireImage

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough did not appear to be convinced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin should simply get a pass after he disappeared for several days, only to announce that he had been in the hospital.

Scarborough addressed the news that broke over the weekend — namely that Austin, after undergoing an undisclosed “elective procedure” and suffering complications, had been hospitalized at Walter Reed Military Medical Center but had not disclosed the information to the White House.

During Monday morning’s broadcast of “Morning Joe,” the longtime host made his concerns clear: “I don’t see how a guy disappears for three days and doesn’t tell the President of the United States.”

Scarborough began by explaining the context — the fact that there were two hot wars already in progress between Russia and Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas — and noted that even if everyone were at peace, it was not optimal for the president to be left in the dark while his defense secretary was out of commission.

“You certainly can’t have a Secretary of Defense that goes missing for three, four days,” Scarborough said. “It’s terrible, I hope the general is doing better, I hope the secretary is doing better. That said, though, he does not have a responsibility to tell the media that he’s in the hospital. He does, in the chain of command, have a responsibility to tell the President of the United States what’s going on.”

“I mean, it’s shocking that Joe Biden doesn’t — didn’t know, it’s shocking that Jake Sullivan didn’t know, it’s shocking that all of these people — that nobody in the White House knew,” he continued. “I don’t — I’m just going to say this — I don’t see how a guy disappears for three days and doesn’t tell the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief, the White House that he’s gone, and continues working in that position.”


Radio host and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino mentioned that as well, noting on several occasions that Austin, as defense secretary, was sixth in the line of succession to the office of the presidency — and as such, was one of the people on whom the Secret Service kept tabs at all times. The fact that he was not — as people had been told — “working from home” meant that someone had not been keeping the Secret Service apprised of his whereabouts either.

“This SecDef story stinks to the heavens. There’s a detailed, thorough, intricate presidential succession plan of which he’s a critical part. I was an accessory part of it once too. I’m absolutely not buying this first iteration of the story. No chance,” he said.

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