The Justice Department announced Monday that Attorney General Merrick Garland will undergo back surgery over the weekend and transfer power to a deputy attorney general during the procedure.
“On Saturday, February 3, 2024, the Attorney General will undergo a minimally invasive back procedure called an interlaminar decompression at L4-L5 to address stenosis,” DOJ spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement obtained by Fox News.
“The procedure requires general anesthesia and will last about 90 minutes,” the statement continued. “The Attorney General is likely to go home the same day. The delegation of his duties will go to the Deputy Attorney General shortly before the procedure, during the procedure, and for a brief period following the procedure to allow for recovery from general anesthesia. The Attorney General will return to work the week of February 5th.”
Garland, 71, will delegate his duties to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco shortly before, during and for a short time after the procedure as he recovers from the anesthesia, the Associated Press and Washington Post reported.
Top government officials usually notify the public when they are undergoing medical treatment that will leave them temporarily incapacitated, but that was not the case earlier this month when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized for several days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before the Pentagon confirmed it publicly.
Austin underwent a surgical procedure for prostate cancer on Dec. 22 and was released, but was then admitted to intensive care days later after experiencing extreme pain. He stayed there for two weeks but did not inform the White House or his deputy that he had cancer, had surgery or returned to the hospital until days later.
Austin’s lack of disclosure prompted two ongoing reviews as well as changes in federal guidelines to ensure the White House will be informed any time a Cabinet head cannot carry out their job. The Justice Department notified the White House of the plans to delegate his duties under the new guidelines, White House spokeswoman Olivia Dalton confirmed.
When Garland went in for a routine medical procedure in 2022, his office also informed the public a week in advance and outlined how long he was expected to be out and when he would return to work.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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