Deputy Attorney General to Assume Responsibilities as Merrick Garland Undergoes Back Surgery

Attorney General Merrick Garland is set to undergo back surgery this weekend, necessitating a temporary delegation of his official responsibilities to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, as announced by the Justice Department on Monday.

Scheduled for Saturday, the medical procedure has been characterized as “minimally invasive” by a Justice Department spokesperson. Although the surgery is anticipated to last approximately 90 minutes, requiring Garland, aged 71, to be under general anesthesia, Deputy Attorney General Monaco will assume his duties during this period.

Public Affairs Director Xochitl Hinojosa clarified that the delegation of duties will commence shortly before the procedure, continue throughout the surgery, and extend for a brief period post-surgery to allow for Garland’s recovery from general anesthesia.

The announcement of the temporary transfer of responsibilities comes in the wake of recent scrutiny faced by government officials over the handling of medical matters. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, for instance, is currently under congressional investigation for initially withholding information about his hospitalization due to complications arising from prostate cancer treatment. Austin and his team delayed informing the White House, top national security officials, and certain high-ranking defense officials for three days. After a two-week hospital stay, Austin was discharged on January 15 and returned to the Pentagon on Monday.

Providing details about Garland’s upcoming surgery, Hinojosa specified that it is an interlaminar decompression aimed at addressing stenosis in his spine. The procedure’s primary objective is to alleviate lower back pain. Hinojosa expressed optimism regarding Garland’s swift recovery, stating, “The Attorney General is likely to go home the same day” as the surgery, with plans to resume work during the week of February 5th. This disclosure aims to provide transparency about Garland’s health situation and the temporary transition of responsibilities, contrasting with recent instances where the handling of medical information by government officials has been subject to public scrutiny.