Now that Richard Cordray has resigned from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (ostensibly to run as the Dems' best shot to replace John Kasich as Governor of Ohio) the question is who will lead the agency in his wake. Cordray named deputy director Leandra English to run the agency, but Trump is naming his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, as the acting director of the agency, setting up a legal fight for the ages.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's top lawyer sided with the Justice Department over President Donald Trump's appointment of Mick Mulvaney to lead the CFPB as a leadership battle over the controversial watchdog agency escalated.
In a memorandum obtained by POLITICO, CFPB general counsel Mary McLeod said Trump had the legal authority to name an acting director to the bureau under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
"It is my legal opinion that the president possesses the authority to designate an acting director for the bureau," McLeod wrote in the Nov. 25 memo to the CFPB leadership team. "I advise all bureau personnel to act consistently with the understanding that Director Mulvaney is the acting director of the CFPB."
Yet even as McLeod's memo was circulating, Leandra English, former CFPB Director Richard Cordray's choice to serve as acting director of the watchdog agency, sued the Trump administration in U.S District Court in Washington.
In her lawsuit filed late Sunday, English named Trump and Mulvaney as defendants and asked the court to establish her authority as acting director.
"Ms. English has a clear entitlement to the position of acting director of the CFPB," the filing claims. "The President's purported or intended appointment of defendant Mulvaney as acting director of the CFPB is unlawful."
Here's the difference: Leandra English actually wants the agency to continue to fight for consumer rights against huge financial corporations and big banks. Mick Mulvaney wants to shut the agency down completely and says it was a mistake for the agency to even have been created in the first place.
English has a case because the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation specifically says the deputy director takes charge of the agency should the director step aside, and that the President cannot fire the director without cause. The Trump regime says that's all nice and good, but that Dodd-Frank is superseded by the Vacancies Reform Act because Trump says so, and that he gets to appoint an interim director for any federal agency that doesn't have a permanent head.
Who's right here? Nobody knows. Should be an interesting day at work today for the CFPB though.