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Defense secretary on secret hospital stay: ‘I did not handle this right’

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin makes a joint statement in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Dec. 18, 2023. (Provided Photo/Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

WASHINGTON (WISH) — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Thursday he takes full responsibility for the controversy surrounding his stay at a hospital, keeping President Joe Biden and top Pentagon officials in the dark for weeks after he had been diagnosed with a sought treatment for prostate cancer.

Austin, 70, also said he never directed anyone on his staff not to tell the White House he’d been hospitalized, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“We did not handle this right and I did not handle this right. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I take full responsibility,” Austin said.

Austin spoke to reporters at the Pentagon about the “secrecy” surrounding his cancer diagnosis and struggles with complications since his surgery on Dec. 22. The Associated Press reported it was the first time he had answered questions from reporters since being rushed back to the hospital on Jan. 1.

A statement from doctors said Austin’s cancer prognosis is “excellent” and that no further treatments needed.