Jan 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Garland to transfer AG duties while undergoing back surgery

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will transfer his official duties to his deputy as he undergoes back surgery this weekend, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Why it matters: The announcement came after the Biden administration faced intense criticism for a lack of transparency over Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's recent hospitalization related to prostate cancer.

  • The White House opened a review of Cabinet protocols for delegating authority in the aftermath of the controversy.

Details: Garland's "minimally invasive" medical procedure will last for about 90 minutes, and will require him to be under general anesthesia, a DOJ spokesperson said.

  • Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will assume his duties "shortly before the procedure, during the procedure, and for a brief period following the procedure to allow for recovery from general anesthesia," the spokesperson said.
  • Garland is expected to return to work next week, the spokesperson added.

Catch up quickly: Austin was hospitalized on Jan. 1 after experiencing complications from a treatment for prostate cancer, though his admittance wasn't announced until four days later on Jan. 5.

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