President Joe Biden fired the embattled Architect of the U.S. Capitol (AOC) Brett Blanton, who faced accusations of abusing his position and government resources.
“After doing our due diligence, the Architect of [the] Capitol was terminated at the President’s direction,” a White House official told CNN, a move applauded by Republicans and Democrats in Congress. PunchBowl News published a short White House letter sent to Blanton, declaring that his firing would be effective at 5 p.m.
Blanton, tasked with overseeing the operation and maintenance of Capitol Hill, has been facing mounting criticism ever since last year’s release of an inspector general report that outlined a number of misconduct allegations, including that he misused a government-owned vehicle and wasted taxpayer money, among other “substantiated violations.” He was also accused of misrepresenting himself as a law enforcement officer.
During an appearance under oath before the House Administration Committee, Blanton further stoked the ire of lawmakers when he testified last week about the watchdog’s findings and conceded that he did not think it was “prudent” for him not to drive to work on January 6, 2021, the day when a crowd of people breached the Capitol while Congress met to certify Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, according to POLITICO.
Still, Blanton denied doing anything unethical, CNN reported.
“I wholeheartedly reject any assertion that I have engaged in unethical behavior during my service to this country while serving in this particular role, I have taken my commitment to transform the agency’s culture to promote positive workplace for every AOC employee,” Blanton said. “Moreover, I have fully invested to ensure that I meet the responsibilities and the expectations of this role.”
News of Blanton’s ouster on Monday came shortly after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called for Biden to take action if Blanton refused to step down.
“The Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, no longer has my confidence to continue in his job. He should resign or President Biden should remove him immediately,” McCarthy tweeted.
Democrats in Congress voiced support for Biden’s decision to remove Blanton.
“After being given the opportunity to respond to numerous allegations of legal, ethical, and administrative violations, and failing to directly respond, the President has removed Mr. Brett Blanton from his position – a decision I firmly stand behind,” House Administration Committee ranking member Joe Morelle (D-NY) said in a statement. “President Biden did the right thing and heeded my call for action. I look forward to working with my colleagues to begin a search for a new Architect immediately.”
Blanton, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, had seven years left in his 10-year term. It was not immediately clear who would replace him as AOC.