Trump appointee sues Biden over alleged ouster from advisory board
A Trump-appointed member of an administrative advisory board is suing President Joe Biden, alleging the new administration is unlawfully trying to oust him from his post.
Roger Severino, who was appointed to the council of the Administrative Conference of the United States in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, asserted that the White House Presidential Personnel Office asked him to resign by Wednesday afternoon. The suit alleges that if he refused, he would be fired.
Severino’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, said he believed that three other members of the council were given a similar ultimatum. The ACUS researches and advises on various administrative processes to maximize efficiency.
Trump announced his intention to appoint Severino to the advisory board in July, and Severino received his commission just over two weeks ago. He argued that the council is separate from any executive power and that the president does not have the authority to fire him at will. When he asked for a reason for his termination, the White House did not respond, the suit alleges.
“The Council does not wield any executive power — indeed, it does not wield any power at all as a purely advisory entity — so President Biden has no constitutional power to terminate Mr. Severino or any other member of the Council,” the lawsuit said.
"President Biden's attempt to remove me contrary to law exposes his lofty promises of healing and uniting all Americans as nothing more than cynical manipulation," Severino said in a statement to POLITICO. "Because I am not one to be bullied, not even by the President himself, I will not resign my duly commissioned post and look forward to seeing how President Biden tries to justify his vindictive actions in court."
The White House did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
The suit comes as the Biden administration works to weed out political holdovers from the Trump presidency still working in the executive branch. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ousted members of 31 defense advisory boards who were appointed in the twilight days of Trump’s presidency. Other members of defense advisory boards, including those appointed by Trump himself, remain under review.
Severino had previously served as head of the Department of Health and Human Services civil rights office, where he shored up protections for health care workers objecting to abortions on religious reasons and defended a rollback of protections for LGBT patients.