DOJ Announces Transfer of Power for Merrick Garland During Upcoming Back Surgery Amidst Biden Defense Dept Controversy

On Monday, the Justice Department disclosed that Attorney General Merrick Garland is set to undergo back surgery over the weekend, leading to the temporary transfer of 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.”

At 71, Garland will entrust Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco with his responsibilities shortly before, during, and briefly after his upcoming back surgery, allowing him to recover from anesthesia, according to reports from the Associated Press and Washington Post.

While customary for top government officials to publicly disclose temporary incapacitation due to medical treatment, this transparency was absent earlier this month when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin underwent hospitalization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Austin had undergone prostate cancer surgery on Dec. 22, experienced subsequent intense pain, and spent two weeks in intensive care.The lack of timely disclosure prompted ongoing reviews and adjustments to federal guidelines to ensure immediate White House notification in case a Cabinet head cannot perform their duties. Under the new guidelines, the Justice Department informed the White House of Garland’s plans to delegate his responsibilities, as confirmed by White House spokeswoman Olivia Dalton.

In contrast, when Garland underwent a routine medical procedure in 2022, his office proactively notified the public a week in advance, providing details on the expected duration of his absence and his anticipated return to work.