Earlier this year, Andrew Saul, who until this week remained in his position as Social Security Commissioner, made headlines after he refused to resign from the position that he was appointed to by former President Donald Trump.
As The Hill reported, Saul, the last remaining Trump-era holdout in a position of high authority, was formally fired by President Joe Biden. The firing sparked controversy, as Saul and his supporters have long claimed that Biden doesn’t have the power to fire him, given that he was appointed to a six-year term and confirmed by Congress in 2019.
Saul told The Washington Post on Friday that his firing has left the Social Security Administration (SSA) in “turmoil.”
“This was the first I or my deputy knew this was coming,” Saul said. “It was a bolt of lightning no one expected. And right now it’s left the agency in complete turmoil.”
“I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” Saul told the Post, adding that he’ll return to work on Monday, remotely.
While it appears as if Saul isn’t sold on the idea that he’s been terminated, the decision to do so came on the heels of a statement released by Biden’s Justice Department claiming that Biden “may remove the SSA Commissioner at will.”
A White House statement held nothing back in their official reasoning for terminating Saul, accusing him of undermining and “politicizing” the SSA during his time as its commissioner.
“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 statement read.
It appears as if Saul has a number of friends in high places, as several high-profile Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who both previously warned the Biden administration to refrain from terminating the term-appointed SSA commissioner.