Lloyd Austin’s preference for a low profile was seen as an asset by the White House — until now

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As an Army officer and as defense secretary, Lloyd Austin has earned a reputation as a man of few words who tries to avoid the public spotlight, a trait that the White House saw as a plus — until now.

Austin’s desire to maintain a strictly low profile has now backfired badly after he failed to inform the White House for several days that he had been rushed to a hospital on New Year’s Day because of complications from prostate cancer treatment.

His reticence about his medical condition has created a political headache for the Biden administration and angered lawmakers from both parties, who are demanding to know why the secretary and his senior staff kept the president in the dark about his stay in the intensive care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The White House has said President Joe Biden has full confidence in Austin, and officials have said the president does not plan to fire him or accept any offer to resign.