Showdown over top post at key watchdog agency

U.S. Consumer Watchdog Official Is Suing to Block Trump's Pick From Leading the AgencyMore

Reuters, which first obtained the memo, reported that he sent the memo after English sent an email welcoming staff back from their Thanksgiving holiday and signed off as "acting director".

The fight is moving to a federal courtroom in Washington, where Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee approved recently by the Senate, will hear arguments on the case late Monday afternoon. She said that as deputy director, she became the acting director under the law and argued that the federal law the White House contends supports Trump's appointment of Mulvaney doesn't apply when another statute designates a successor. English and Mulvaney both showed up for work at the agency's offices Monday, adding to the sense of confusion over who's in charge.

Whether President Donald Trump's pick, Mick Mulvaney, or the former CFPB director Richard Cordray's pick, Leandra English, will lead the group is up in the air amid a legal battle. Hours later, the Republican president named Mulvaney as acting head, plunging the bureau into uncertainty. How Trump intends to bring it back to life by helping financial institutions-while still protecting consumers-is unclear.

As many of you know, the CFPB is engulfed in a batshit power struggle after Richard Cordray ran away to join the OH political circus, giving The Trump White House a clear shot at doing its favorite thing: passively strangling a government agency to death by appointing an anathematic person to run it.

Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Finance Protection Board, said he has put a 30-day immediate freeze on regulations while he "kicks the tires" to find what's going on at the watchdog agency.

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Hold up. What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

At least he resisted the urge to write "Your favorite Acting CFPB Director (me)". Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a Harvard Law School professor at the time. But Republicans say CFPB is another example of government overreach that stymies consumer choice and economic growth. To cement Mulvaney's legitimacy, the White House shared a letter Mary E. McLeod, CFPB's general counsel, sent to senior leaders at the agency on Saturday. Mulvaney's email directly disputed English's, asking staff to disregard her instructions and to inform the agency's general counsel of any communications from her related to bureau duties. Even the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel acknowledged, in its November 25 memo to White House Counsel Donald McGahn, that this language applies, conceding that "the resignation of the Director would satisfy the requirement of 'absence or unavailability.' Therefore, the statute would permit a properly appointed Deputy Director to serve as the Acting Director during a vacancy". The court has not yet issued a new ruling.

"Acting Director English is rightly in that post until the Senate confirms a new director, and filing suit will allow the courts to resolve the matter", said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform.

Founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, CFPB was authorized as part of the Dodd-Frank Act to protect consumers and monitor Wall Street.

One straightforward solution to the issue of who runs the CFPB is for Trump to nominate his own permanent director. McLeod recognizes, as she must, that the House-passed version of the law creating the CFPB would have made the FVRA available to the president in circumstances like this - but - that Congress deliberately replaced that version with one not giving the president a power to circumvent Dodd-Frank.

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