“As with any employment termination, the government has taken steps to off-board Andrew Saul as we would any other former employee,” an administration official says.
Those steps should essentially prevent Saul, who was a holdover from President Donald Trump’s administration and refused to resign when requested last week, from accessing the agency’s systems after his termination. Saul previously told the Washington Post that he still planned to report to work on Monday by signing in remotely from his home in New York.
“I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” he told the Washington Post.
President Joe Biden fired Saul, whose six-year term leading the SSA was set to end in 2025, after the commissioner refused to submit his resignation when asked by the White House. The deputy commissioner, David Black, agreed to submit his resignation, which was accepted by the White House.
Saul has questioned the legality of the President’s decision, but a White House official says they believe the President has the authority to remove these officials due to precedent from the Supreme Court. A Justice Department memo written Thursday also outlined the justification.
The President appointed Kilolo Kijakazi as the acting commissioner. Organization charts on the SSA’s website were updated on Saturday to reflect Kijakazi’s new assignment leading the agency in an acting capacity.
Kijakazi is currently the deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at the Social Security Administration. Prior to that position, she served as a fellow at the Urban Institute, a program officer for the Ford Foundation and a senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. She holds a doctorate in public policy and has led and participated in research regarding Social Security, racial equity, economic security and retirement security.
Saul and Black are not the first Trump appointees to be removed by the Biden White House, nor is Saul the first to question the legal authority Biden holds in removing his predecessor’s appointees.
Last winter, the Biden administration made an effort to remove multiple Trump appointees across various government agencies and boards.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in February dismissed hundreds of members across 42 advisory boards, including a number of last-minute Trump appointees such as former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager.