Defense Sec. Austin apologizes for handling of cancer diagnosis: 'I should have told the president'

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin apologized Thursday for not properly handling and communicating his cancer diagnosis and treatment to President Joe Biden, Pentagon staff and the general public.

“I want to be crystal clear. We did not handle this right. And I did not handle this right,” Austin said at a news conference at the Pentagon after returning this week since his hospital stay at the beginning of January.

“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people,” Austin said.

The defense secretary said he wanted to make clear there were “no gaps in authority” and “no risk to the department’s command and control” during his hospitalization. He said that the Pentagon has already instituted new procedures to ensure no future lapses in notification.