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Attorney General Merrick Garland to undergo back surgery during weekend

The Department of Justice announced Attorney General Merrick Garland will undergo back surgery on Saturday and clarified that his deputy will assume his duties while he is under general anesthesia. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
The Department of Justice announced Attorney General Merrick Garland will undergo back surgery on Saturday and clarified that his deputy will assume his duties while he is under general anesthesia. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Attorney General Merrick Garland will undergo back surgery over the weekend during which his duties will be temporary transferred to his deputy, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Garland will be under general anesthesia during the 90-minute procedure on Saturday, at which time Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will assume his duties, DOJ spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement issued to media outlets.

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The administration's clarification on the delegation of Garland's authority came on the same day that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin returned to work after stirring controversy over his failure to inform President Joe Biden and others of an unplanned hospitalization on New Year's Day.

The Department of Defense confirmed in a statement that Austin, 70, resumed his duties at the Pentagon on Monday after conducting his work from home following his release two weeks ago from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Austin originally underwent prostate surgery on Dec. 22 and went home the same day. But on Jan. 1 he was re-admitted to the intensive care unit following severe intestinal pain due to an infection.

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Austin didn't notify the White House of the matter until three days later, triggering a backlash. The episode resulted in the establishment of new White House guidelines regarding delegation of authority for Cabinet members undergoing medical procedures, according a memo from White House chief of staff Jeff Zients obtained by NBC News.

Garland's upcoming hospitalization appears to be the first situation to be covered under the new guidelines.

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