Biden fires Trump-appointed Social Security Administration chief

President Joe Biden on Friday fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul after he refused a request to resign, a White House official told NBC News.

Saul, who was appointed to lead the agency by former President Donald Trump, was notified that his employment was terminated immediately, according to the official.

The Washington Post was first to report news of Saul's firing.

“Since taking office, Commissioner Saul has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, terminated the agency’s telework policy that was utilized by up to 25 percent of the agency’s workforce, not repaired SSA’s relationships with relevant Federal employee unions including in the context of COVID-19 workplace safety planning, reduced due process protections for benefits appeals hearings, and taken other actions that run contrary to the mission of the agency and the President’s policy agenda," the White House official said.

Biden also asked for the resignation of David Black, the agency’s deputy commissioner, who did resign, the official said. Biden has appointed Kilolo Kijakazi, the agency's deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy, as acting commissioner.

A search for both commissioner and deputy commissioner will now be conducted, White House official said.

Saul, however, told The Post in an interview on Friday that he questions the legality of the White House decision to fire him. His term was supposed to last until January 2025. The White House told the paper that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision gave the power to replace him.

“I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” he told The Post, describing the firing as a “Friday Night Massacre" — a reference to President Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre," which included a string of firings by the president during the Watergate scandal.

He told the paper he plans to return to work on Monday.

Republican lawmakers were swift to criticize Biden for the move, claiming the administration is injecting politics into a typically apolitical agency. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called the move "outrageous" in a tweet on Friday, noting that the commissioner is appointed to a six-year term and was confirmed with a bipartisan vote in 2019.

Social Security Commissioner Saul has bipartisan backing / I’m hrg Pres Biden may oust him which wld b outrageous Saul was confirmed by Senate in 2019 w a vote of 77 to 16 to 6yr term that doesn’t expire til January 19, 2025/ DONT POLITICIZE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN

— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) July 9, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also laced into the administration for the move in a Friday tweet.

I agree with @ChuckGrassley. This removal would be an unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the Social Security Administration. https://t.co/Y33G4YoZKf

— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) July 9, 2021

"This removal would be an unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the Social Security Administration," McConnell said.

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