Biden fires Trump-appointed lawyer who refused to resign
President Biden on Friday fired Sharon Gustafson, who was appointed by former President Trump as the general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The White House told Gustafson that she was being fired effective 5 p.m. Friday after she refused to resign willingly.
In a letter to the White House released by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank, Gustafson said she “respectfully” declined the White House’s request to resign and that she wanted to serve the remainder of her four-year term, which was set to expire in 2023.
Gautam Raghavan, the White House deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, responded in an email that she was being fired as of Friday evening.
Neither the White House nor the EEOC immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill.
Republicans swiftly came out swinging against the firing. Andrea Lucas, a Republican-appointed commissioner to the EEOC, described the firing as a violation of Biden’s calls for unity.
“I find the action taken today by the White House against our independent agency to be deeply troubling, a break from long-established norms respected by presidents of both parties, an injection of partisanship where it had been absent, and telling evidence of what ‘unity’ actually means to this President and his Administration,” she tweeted.
…telling evidence of what “unity” actually means to this President and his Administration. In his inaugural address, the President said, “The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength.”
— Andrea R. Lucas (@andrealucasEEOC) March 5, 2021
“This is a pattern. President Biden calls for the end to ‘partisan warfare,’ only to turn around and demand that Senate-confirmed officials resign so he can make room for his left-wing friends,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.
“President Biden should take a note from General Counsel Gustafson, who stuck to her commitment and refused to cave to partisan pressure. This unprecedented firing of an honorable public official which occurred just hours after she was asked to resign is unwarranted and should be immediately rescinded,” Foxx said.
Gustafson was first appointed to her role in 2018. She faced scrutiny at the time over remarks about protections for LGBT workers.
Gustafson wrote in her letter to the White House that she was unaware of past EEOC generals counsel who had been fired at the start of a new administration, though Biden has worked quickly to install his own appointees across the federal government.