Saul was fired after rejecting a request to resign, White House officials said. His deputy, David Black, who was also appointed by former President Donald Trump, stepped down upon request Friday.
Biden appointed Kilolo Kijakazi, the current Deputy Commissioner for Pensions and Disability Policy, to serve as acting Commissioner until a permanent candidate is elected.
But Saul said in an interview Friday afternoon that he would not leave his position and challenged the legality of the White House to remove him. As the head of an independent agency whose leadership does not normally change with a new administration, Saul̵
Saul denied it. “I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner for Social Security,” he said, adding that he plans to be back at work Monday morning and sign remote access from his home in New York. He called his expulsion a “Friday night massacre.”
“This was the first time I or my deputy knew this was coming,” Saul said of the email he received from the White House Personnel Office Friday morning. “It was a lightning bolt, no one expected. And right now, it has left the agency in complete turmoil. ”
Saul’s firing came after a tumultuous six-month term in the Biden administration, in which advocates for the elderly and disabled and Democrats on Capitol Hill pressured the White House to fire him. He clashed with unions representing his 60,000 employees, who said he used trade union tactics. Angry lawyers say he walked away while millions of disabled Americans waited for him to pass on files to the Internal Revenue Service to release their stimulus control – accusing him of an overzealous campaign to get disabled people to restore their entitlement to benefits.