‘Not one to be bullied’: Trump appointee sues Biden admin, alleges he was illegally threatened with termination

A member of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) appointed by former President Donald Trump, who was commissioned just days before President Joe Biden was sworn in, claims in a newly filed lawsuit that he was illegally threatened with termination.

Roger Severino, who was commissioned to a three-year term on Jan. 16, says in his suit that he was threatened with termination if he failed to resign on his own.

“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 Fox News. “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.”

Severino served as head of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) within the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department under the former president.

In addition to Severino, Trump also appointed Jennifer Dickey and Adrian Vermeule to the ACUS, which “is an independent federal agency charged with convening expert representatives from the public and private sectors to recommend improvements to administrative process and procedure,” according to the organization’s website.

His suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on Wednesday, claims that Biden does not have the authority to unilaterally remove him from his term. “The statute governing ACUS provides that Mr. Severino’s term on the Council lasts for three years, and the statute makes no provision or allowance for at-will Presidential removal,” the suit says.

The filing includes the text of an email sent by Gautam Raghavan, the deputy director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office.

“I am writing on behalf of President Biden to request your resignation from the Administrative Conference of the United States Council by 5:00 p.m. ET tomorrow, Wednesday, February 3. If you do not resign by that time, your appointment to the Council will be terminated. Thank you for your time and service,” Raghavan wrote.

According to the court filing, Severino has not resigned.

“The email was sent ‘on behalf of President Biden,’ and it asked Mr. Severino to resign from the Council by 5:00 p.m. today. Mr. Raghaven warned Mr. Severino that if he did not resign by that time, his ‘appointment to the Council will be terminated,’” the suit read.

Severino responded to Raghavan by saying he was “surprised by your note. What are the grounds for the request for my resignation so early in my appointed term?”

Biden, Raghavan, and Catherine M. Russell, who serves as director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, were all named as defendants in the suit.

Severino said that no one else Trump appointed has received an email demanding they resign.

During his HHS tenure, Severino was in charge of ensuring that the former president’s conservative policies on gender, abortion, sexuality, and religious liberty were enacted. Fox News reported previously that Trump administration officials claimed the former president’s agenda was stalled by the HHS general counsel’s office.

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Jon Dougherty

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