Fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, who defiantly said he would continue working, has been cut off from accessing the agency’s computers, The Washington Post is reporting.
"I’m here to do the job," Saul said from his home in Katonah, New York. "But I can’t do anything with the communications shut down."
The Post reported Saul, a holdover from the Trump administration who took charge in 2019, has had to lead the agency from home since March 2020 because the pandemic forced most operations to be performed remotely.
CNN noted that President Joe Biden fired Saul, despite the commissioner’s six-year term, which was slated to end in 2025.
Saul has questioned the legality of Biden’s decision to oust him. However, a White House official maintained Biden has the authority to remove him due to precedent from the Supreme Court.
"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 said.
Deputy Commissioner David Black, also a Trump appointee, was asked to resign and complied, a White House official said.
Biden has appointed Kilolo Kijakazi as acting commissioner while the search for a commissioner and deputy commissioner is conducted, the official said. Kijakazi is currently the deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at the agency.
Saul called his dismissal and the forced ouster of Black a "palace coup" that he said blindsided him, given that his six-year term was not set to expire until 2025.
Saul said he had no public announcement — yet — on his strategy to remain in office. However, he vowed that he will be taking some action.
"There will be more," said Saul, a prominent Republican donor. "Stay tuned."
One expert told the Post it is doubtful Saul can win his job back.
"I think he can make a lot of noise and get the Republicans to make noise," said Nancy Altman, an attorney and president of Social Security Works, an advocacy group that had called for Saul to go. "But in terms of the law, I would be shocked if a court found the president didn’t have the power to fire him."
Meanwhile, Kijakazi took over on Monday, according to the newspaper.
"Acting Commissioner is engaging with her leadership team across the agency as she transitions into her new job," spokesman Mark Hinkle wrote in an email.
Saul’s name was removed from the agency’s organization chart.
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