GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana will introduce articles of impeachment against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday afternoon, his office said in a statement Monday.

Rosendale said Austin’s failure to disclose his hospitalization to key members of his staff and the White House fell into a pattern of alleged dishonesty and potentially put American lives at risk. Austin had been in the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed Medical Center for three days before his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, National Security Council leaders and the president became aware, all while Hicks made “routine decisions” on Austin’s behalf without knowing the reason why.

“Sec. Austin has violated his oath of office time and time again, and has jeopardized the lives of the American people,” Rosendale said.

He cited the administration’s decision to allow the Chinese spy balloon overflight of the continental United States, although the Pentagon has said the balloon did not collect sensitive information about U.S. military bases.

Recent reports, however, suggest that the Pentagon was not entirely forthcoming about what it knew about the spy balloon and its capabilities. The balloon stopped transmitting signals back to China after news of its transit broke, and U.S. officials believe China planned to self-destruct the balloon rather than bringing it back home to retrieve photos and other kinds of data stored on board, according to NBC News.

“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. “Sec. Austin is unfit for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which is why I urge my colleagues to join me in impeaching him to protect the American people.”

“Furthermore, the Secretary failed to uphold his oath of office during the Biden Administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan which led to the death of 13 American soldiers,” Rosendale said.

Republican Florida Rep. Cory Mills in August introduced impeachment articles against Austin for his role in the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal.

Austin acknowledged he could have better informed the public about his nearly five-day hospital stay, during which time the White House and Congress were mostly kept in the dark, in a statement on Saturday but did not admit any wrongdoing.

Austin remains in the hospital but is no longer in the ICU and had resumed his full duties as of Friday evening, including providing guidance to the Pentagon and monitoring DOD operations worldwide. He has also communicated with his principal deputies.

Biden spoke with Austin on Saturday. The president said he has no plans to force Austin’s resignation and the secretary has no plans to step down.

“There is no plan for anything other than for Secretary Austin to stay in the job,” NSC spokesperson John Kirby said Monday.

Micaela Burrow on January 9, 2024

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