A Democrat in deep-blue Massachusetts said Friday that if he were President Biden, he would fire Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “in about five minutes” following his lack of transparency surrounding his hospital stay and surgery to remove cancer.
“I would fire him in about five minutes,” Rep. Seth Moulton, D-MA, told NewsNation on Friday.
Moulton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that the scandal over Austin’s failure to promptly notify key officials in the Biden administration of his hospitalization was “completely unacceptable.”
“I can’t imagine that happening at the lowest levels of the military chain of command, like where I was, as a mere lieutenant platoon commander in Iraq,” Moulton said. “I can’t even imagine it happening when I was a 15-year-old busboy. If I was going to be out for a week, I had to tell my boss.”
The Democratic lawmaker said that while it’s the president’s decision whether to keep Austin as the head of the Pentagon, Biden needs to “send a decisive message.”
“It’s up to the president as to whether he fires Secretary Austin, but I tell you what, he needs to send a decisive message that this is never gonna happen again,” Moulton added.
Moulton said he felt “terrible for Secretary Austin and his family” and wished the secretary a swift recovery.
“But what’s most important is that America gets the national security that it needs, and its troops get the supervision that they need,” he said. “That’s the secretary’s job.”
President Biden has continued to stand behind Austin amid his hospital stay, saying that he still has confidence in the defense secretary’s leadership.
During a visit to small businesses outside Allentown, Pennsylvania on Friday, Biden answered “yes” when asked by reporters if it was a lapse in judgment for Austin not to tell him about his condition.
When a reporter asked him if he still has confidence in Austin’s leadership following his hospitalization debacle, Biden replied, “I do.”
Austin, 70, remains hospitalized as he is being treated for complications following prostate cancer surgery.
The Pentagon publicly revealed on Jan. 5 that Austin had been in the hospital since Jan. 1 due to complications from elective surgery.
But it was later revealed that not only was the media kept in the dark, the highest levels of the White House and top officials in the Pentagon itself were not aware until Jan. 4 that Austin was in the hospital.
The non-disclosure prompted a flurry of bipartisan concern, with top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees calling for more transparency about the incident.
Austin’s hospital stay began on New Year’s Day.
Details of his visit remain slim, beyond that he was there for an elective procedure.
Rep. Seth Moulton’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.