Biden fires holdover head of Social Security Administration

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday fired the commissioner of Social Security after the official refused to resign, and accepted the deputy commissioner’s resignation, the White House said.

Biden asked commissioner Andrew Saul to resign, and his employment was terminated after he refused the Democratic president’s request, a White House official said.

Deputy Commissioner David Black agreed to resign, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

Both officials had been put in place under President Donald Trump, a Republican.

Biden named Kilolo Kijakazi as acting commissioner while the administration conducts a search for a permanent commissioner and deputy commissioner.

Kijakazi currently is the deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at the Social Security Administration.

Saul’s removal followed a Justice Department legal opinion that found he could be removed, despite a statute that says he could only be fired for neglecting his duties or malfeasance.

The opinion — researched at the request of the White House — concluded that a reevaluation because of a recent Supreme Court ruling meant that Saul could be fired by the president at will.

Associated Press writer Mike Balsamo contributed to this report.

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