January 23, 2018

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Will the Real CFPB Acting Director Please Stand Up?

29 November 2017

With both Acting Directors asserting their own claim over the position, English over the weekend filed suit, seeking a temporary restraining order.

The Trump administration has argued against a temporary restraining order that would block White House budget director Mick Mulvaney from assuming temporary control of the US consumer watchdog agency, according to a court filing.

According to Reuters, on Monday, following English's staff-wide email, Mulvaney issued his own fiery memo, claiming the top role for himself and instructing staffers to "disregard any instructions you receive from Ms". Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in her capacity as acting director through the afternoon.

English has filed suit seeking both a temporary injunction and a restraining order against Mulvaney to prevent him from assuming the acting directorship of the government agency, which the very conservative former SC congressman has often criticized.

"I am just finding out about the powers I have as acting director and they would frighten most of you", he said.

"Anything in the pipeline stops for at least 30 days", he said.

Now, the succession battle is headed to court.

So basically, what we have on this Cyber Monday is the Trump Administration forcibly attempting to take control of a controversial regulatory agency in order to declaw it while knocking its teeth out with the human ball-peen hammer that is Mick Mulvaney, and then getting sued by the person who might be supposed to be running it due to bylaws or whatnot. English's backers tried to get assurances that Mr. Mulvaney wouldn't try to fire her. On Saturday, the president wrote on Twitter that the CFPB has been a "total disaster" as run by the previous administration, pointing out that "financial institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public". A Mulvaney aide tweeted a picture of the OMB director reading briefing materials in the CFPB director's office.

Asked by Kelly why the court should undertake the "extraordinary remedy" of enjoining the president from exercising the power of his office, English's attorney said, "I don't deny it's extraordinary".

Mulvaney also signed off as "acting director" and invited staff to pop by his office on the fourth floor to "grab a donut".

The administration argued earlier on Monday that under the 1998 Federal Vacancies Act it has the right to appoint Mulvaney, adding it would be a "radical" step for a court to grant an injunction against a president and that doing so would harm him and the consumer watchdog. Timothy Kelly, a Trump-appointed judge who is presiding over the case, said the issues raised were "extremely important and complicated".

After asking them to disregard Ms English's instructions, he told staff to report any additional communications from her to the bureau's general counsel.

"Established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, CFPB is charged with overseeing the Federal financial laws that specifically protect consumers-people who keep their money in banks and credit unions, pay for goods and services with their credit cards, and rely on loans to buy homes or pay for college, among other services. It is unfortunate that Mr. Cordray made a decision to put his political ambition above the interests of consumers with this stunt".

On Tuesday, English was at work at CFPB headquarters "taking calls and meetings with external stakeholders and bureau staff".

Will the Real CFPB Acting Director Please Stand Up?