Attorney General Merrick Garland to have back surgery: DOJ

Attorney General Merrick Garland will undergo back surgery this weekend, the Justice Department announced Monday.

During the procedure, Garland will transfer power to deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco.

Garland, 71, will be under general anesthesia during the “minimally invasive” surgery for about 90 minutes on Saturday, said Xochitl Hinojosa, director of public affairs at the Justice Department. He is expected to return home later that day and come back to work Feb. 5.

The procedure is to treat spinal stenosis, a narrowing of spaces in the vertebrae.

The Justice Department did not reveal where the surgery will take place or when Garland was diagnosed with the condition.

Disclosure of Garland’s upcoming procedure follows on the heels of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin secretly being hospitalized for prostate cancer treatment for several days and then readmitted with complications without informing the White House or his deputy of his condition. After nearly a month-long absence, Austin returned to the Pentagon on Monday.

In response to the Austin situation, the White House released new guidelines requiring cabinet officials to give notice about medical procedures requiring general anesthesia or hospitalization and to clearly delegate authority. The guidelines also cover circumstances in which the official may be unreachable, like during travel to remote areas.

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