LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s former health director said Thursday that he resigned in January after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told him it was “time to go in a new direction.”

Robert Gordon’s statement to a legislative committee confirmed what the governor’s office had refused to say publicly despite his $155,000 severance deal — that he was ousted after two years on the job. Gordon, with Whitmer’s support, issued COVID-19 restrictions in the fall and winter after the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a law that underpinned her orders.

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Gordon said he joined a video conference call on Jan. 22 with the governor and members of her staff.

“The governor said to me, Robert, grateful for your service. I think it’s time to go in a new direction,” he said. Whitmer left the call. Her chief legal counsel Mark Totten offered him an opportunity to resign, “and I did,” Gordon said.

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He said he was serving at an appointee and “it’s important that the governor is comfortable with you in that role.”

The House Oversight Committee hearing was ongoing. The governor has not said why she replaced Gordon.

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