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One of the early bits of drama from the beginning of the Trump administration in 2017 was the firing of DOJ official Sally Yates. She was refusing to defend a directive the president had made regarding travel from countries deemed to be hotbeds for terrorism. Though it certainly wasn’t by any objective measure, the media called it a “Muslim ban.” The entire ordeal was a good preview of exactly how far careerists at the bureaucracy would be willing to go over the next four years to spite the orange man.
I start this article with that trip down memory lane to point out that the left absolutely loved it when Obama-era appointees “stood up” to Trump and challenged him. In fact, the New Yorker wrote a piece fawning over Yates with that phrase in the title several months later.
Well, now we may have our first major clash of the Biden-era in regards to a Trump-appointed official. While most of them were cleaned out almost immediately with little fanfare (and no objection from the same media that flipped when Trump cleaned house in 2017), Chief of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul, was fired today.
Now, he’s refusing to leave.
Canned Social Security Chief Andrew Saul says Biden had no right to fire him and plans to show up for work as usual Monday morning. Alas, that means logging on from his home in New York. So not sure it's going to create too much drama or angst. https://t.co/kgdWtP2ohS via @TPM pic.twitter.com/HMTIHqMc5P
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 9, 2021
Here’s the report via Fox News.
“I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” Saul said.
The White House recited a list of grievances against him.
“Since taking office, Commissioner Saul has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, terminated the agency’s telework policy that was utilized by up to 25 percent of the agency’s workforce, not repaired SSA’s relationships with relevant Federal employee unions including in the context of COVID-19 workplace safety planning, reduced due process protections for benefits appeals hearings, and taken other actions that run contrary to the mission of the agency and the President’s policy agenda,” a White House official said in a statement.
In the end, Saul is going to wind up on the street unless some unsurfaced provision arises to save him. As far as I’m aware, just because a term exists for an executive appointed position does not mean that person is entitled to serve out the entire term. There are exceptions, but they are written expressly into law. James Comey, who was fired before his 10-year term as FBI Director was up, would be the most high-profile example of the Trump presidency.
Given that, the other part of this story is how differently fired Trump officials are being treated compared to fired Obama officials. When Yates was canned, she was treated as a national hero and Trump was demonized for breaking “norms.” That narrative was pushed over and over for Trump’s tenure. But when Biden makes an obviously politicized firing regarding an agency that is supposed to be apolitical, the mouth-breathers have nothing to say. Weird, right?
OK, so it’s not really that weird. Rather, it’s exactly what you’d expect. We’ll see what happens when Saul tries to remote into work on Monday. I’d guess he won’t have access anymore, and it’s not like the far-left careerists at the agency will go to bat for him. Thus, this story is likely to die a quick death.