Top Pentagon Official Who Came Under Fire During Lloyd Austin Hospitalization Fiasco Steps Down

Ms. Kelly Magsamen poses for her official portrait in the Army portrait stuidio in Arlington, Virginia, Jan 22,2021. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. XaViera Masline)

A top Pentagon aide stepped down from her role on Wednesday after facing criticisms for her part in Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s concealed hospitalization in January.

Kelly Magsamen served as chief of staff to Austin since the beginning of his tenure in 2021 and will leave her role at the end of June, the Pentagon said, according to multiple reports. Magsamen previously came under fire from critics after Austin was hospitalized in January but did not inform the public or the White House of his whereabouts, according to The Washington Post.

“From day one of this administration, Kelly’s leadership, counsel, and selfless service made our nation safer, made the lives of our people better and more rewarding, and rendered the heavy burden of this office of mine a good bit lighter.” Austin told Politico in a statement on Wednesday. “If there is a better example of exemplary public service at a challenging time, I do not know of it.”

Magsamen rarely spoke at public events or to the press but was seen as a close aide to Austin and key player in mediating communications between the Pentagon and the White House, according to the Post and Politico. Austin was hospitalized in early January due to complications stemming from a medical procedure, but did not disclose his whereabouts to President Joe Biden, the White House or the public during that time.

 

The Pentagon previously stated that Magsamen was also unaware of his whereabouts during his hospitalization, but later said that she and other relevant parties close to Austin were notified on Jan. 2 and waited two days to relay the information to the White House, according to the Post and Politico.

The Pentagon said that Magsamen’s delay in relaying the information was due to her falling ill with the flu that week, according to the Post. Magsamen was subsequently caught in the crossfire of scrutiny against Austin and the decision to keep his hospitalization secret.

“We did not handle this right. I did not handle this right,” Austin said during a press conference in January. “A wider circle should have been notified, especially the president.”


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