President Biden fired Trump-era Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul Friday morning, for undermining and politicizing Social Security benefits, according to a White House official.
The president asked for Saul’s and Deputy Commissioner David Black’s resignation, the official said. Black agreed to resign, but Saul refused, so he was notified that his employment was terminated.
The Biden administration deemed Saul’s actions as commissioner as “contrary” to the Social Security Administration’s mission and to Mr. Biden’s agenda. Among other issues, the White House complained that Saul ended the SSA’s telework policy, which was used by a quarter of its workers.
Mr. Biden has appointed Kilolo Kijakazi to be acting commissioner until a commissioner and deputy are named. Kijakazi is currently the deputy commissioner for Retirement and Disability at the SSA.
The Washington Post, which first reported Saul’s firing, spoke with Saul Friday afternoon. He told the Post that he would not leave his position because he does not believe that the president has the authority to fire him, since the IRS, as an independent agency, doesn’t usually change leadership with a new administration of a different party. Saul was appointed in 2019 by then-President Trump to fill an expiring term and for a new appointment that was to extend until 2025.
However, the White House official disputed Saul’s contention that Mr. Biden can’t fire him, saying, “Given Supreme Court precedent, we believe the president has the authority to remove these officials.” That’s likely a reference to the high court’s opinion in a case about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent agency, in which the justices held that the director of that agency “must be removable by the President at will.”
Saul has not yet responded to CBS News’ request for comment. According to the Post, he plans to sign in from home in New York for work on Monday.