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9 Jan, 2024 14:00

US lawmaker to launch impeachment case against Pentagon chief

Despite mounting pressure from Republicans, President Joe Biden has reportedly decided to stand by his missing defense secretary
US lawmaker to launch impeachment case against Pentagon chief

US Representative Matt Rosendale announced on Monday that he would file articles of impeachment against Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, accusing the Pentagon’s top official of “violating his oath of office time and time again.” Austin was hospitalized last week, reportedly leaving the White House unaware of his absence.

Rosendale, a Republican from Montana, said that he would introduce a resolution calling for Austin’s impeachment when the House of Representatives meets on Tuesday afternoon.

“Austin has violated his oath of office time and time again, endangering the lives of the American people,” Rosendale said in a statement. “He is unfit for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which is why I urge my colleagues to join me in impeaching him.”

Rosendale’s office cited Austin’s handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, during which a suicide bomber killed 13 American troops and tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment was left behind to fall into Taliban hands, as well as his alleged efforts to hush up last year’s Chinese “spy balloon” scandal as justification for his impeachment. 

However, the Montana congressman told Fox News that Austin’s recent hospitalization made the case for impeachment more urgent. “This dishonesty seems to be a repeated pattern for the Secretary as he once again lied to our military and the American people about his health last week,” Rosendale said. 

Austin was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Monday due to “complications following a recent elective medical procedure,” the Pentagon revealed to reporters on Friday. Over the weekend, it emerged that Austin was still hospitalized but that no one had informed the White House of his initial absence.

The Pentagon also failed to disclose Austin’s admittance for surgery in late December. Austin remains hospitalized as of Tuesday, and Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Monday that he could not provide “a specific date for his release at this time.”

During Austin’s stay at Walter Reed, US troops illegally stationed in Iraq and Syria came under repeated attacks by militants, while Yemeni Houthis successfully closed the Red Sea to Israeli-linked shipping. The US military carried out an airstrike in Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing militia leader Abu Taqwa. With Austin recuperating at the time and Biden unaware, it is not apparent who authorized the strike. 

It is unclear whether the House’s slim GOP majority will back Rosendale’s impeachment resolution, although several prominent Republican politicians have called for Austin’s resignation or dismissal. Austin “should be fired immediately for improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty,” former President Donald Trump said on Sunday. “He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was or might be.”

Biden will not fire Austin, Politico reported on Monday, citing senior administration officials. “Austin’s going nowhere,” one official told the outlet, while another said that Biden is “famously loyal” and would refuse to accept a resignation even if the former general were to offer it.




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