Officials have confirmed that the deputy defense secretary was not informed of Lloyd Austin's hospitalization when she took on his responsibilities.

Officials have confirmed that the deputy defense secretary was not informed of Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization when she took on his responsibilities.

The deputy defense secretary was not informed of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s actions.had been hospitalized

On Tuesday, two defense officials from CBS News verified that she took on some of his responsibilities.

One of the officials stated that Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks was notified of Austin’s hospitalization on Thursday. They also mentioned that Hicks had been in Puerto Rico and came back on Saturday.

The Pentagon confirmed on Friday that Austin has been in the hospital since January 1st, after experiencing complications from a routine medical procedure. An official from the administration stated that Austin was in the ICU during his time in the hospital.

Hicks was not informed of the hospitalization until several days after it occurred.

“In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder announced that on January 2, the Secretary of Defense transferred certain operational responsibilities to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. These responsibilities require constant secure communications capabilities and the Deputy Secretary maintains a complete suite of communications and capable staff at all times, regardless of location. This transfer is a routine occurrence and is not primarily related to health matters.”

After being informed about the hospitalization, a high-ranking defense official stated that Hicks promptly coordinated with staff to create a public statement and reach out to Congress. They also made arrangements to return to Washington on Friday as a precaution.

The official stated that she was notified later that day that the secretary would soon resume all communication abilities and related operational duties on Friday. As a result, she stayed in her position to maintain the most effective communication status during the transition period.

According to an official from the Biden administration, the White House received news of Austin’s status on Thursday morning. A Senate aide stated that the Senate Armed Services Committee was informed on Friday evening. A senior aide from the House Armed Services Committee mentioned that the committee was informed before the public on Friday.

Ryder informed CBS News on Sunday evening that the Secretary’s Chief of Staff was unable to send notifications earlier due to illness.

While responsible for some of Austin’s duties, Hicks “made some routine operational and management decisions” for the Pentagon and “was fully authorized and ready to support the President on other military matters, should the need have arisen,” the senior defense official said. 

On Sunday morning, Ryder reported that Austin is making good progress and has returned to performing all of his duties since Friday evening. However, there is no information on when Austin will be released from the hospital.

Later on Sunday, Ryder stated that Austin had received his usual drop of information on Saturday, which included the president’s daily brief. Ryder was unsure if Austin would conduct in-person briefings in the upcoming week, but he assured that Austin will still receive the daily brief and has access to a sensitive compartmented information facility and all necessary communication methods at Walter Reed.

Austin recognized in a statement on Saturday that he “could have taken more care in keeping the public properly informed.”

“I promise to improve,” he stated. “However, I must emphasize that this was my medical procedure and I fully accept responsibility for my choices regarding disclosure.”

Reporting was contributed by David Martin, Nancy Cordes, Weijia Jiang, Kristin Brown, Scott MacFarlane, and John Nolen.

Caitlin Yilek