The dismissal, the latest effort by President Biden to oust a Trump-appointed director of an independent executive agency, could set off a legal showdown over who rightfully holds the position.
By Jim Tankersley
President Biden fired President Donald J. Trump’s appointed head of the Social Security Administration on Friday, setting off a possible legal showdown over who rightfully holds the position.
Mr. Biden asked on Friday morning for the resignations of Andrew Saul, the agency’s commissioner, and David Black, a deputy commissioner. Mr. Black resigned as requested, but Mr. Saul refused and was notified by the administration that he had been fired, an administration official said. He has vowed to fight Mr. Biden’s move as illegal.
Mr. Biden moved to appoint an acting commissioner, Kilolo Kijakazi, while the administration looks for permanent successors for the two jobs. Ms. Kijakazi has been the deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at the agency.
The firing was the latest bid by Mr. Biden to oust a Trump-appointed director of an independent executive agency. Such agency chiefs are appointed to fixed terms, and have historically enjoyed a high degree of insulation from political dismissals, but recently that deference has eroded.
When Mr. Trump acted to remove the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Supreme Court affirmed his power to do so. In June, Mr. Biden removed the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, after the court ruled that he had that authority.
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