Dueling Chiefs Show Up to Run US Consumer Agency

November 28, 2017

The White House says the “law is extremely clear” and that Mick Mulvaney is acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — not Obama holdover Leandra English.

Both Mulvaney and English showed up for work to take up the same job Monday and started sending out official e-mails.

English, the bureau’s deputy director welcomed employees back to the office after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Mulvaney told them to disregard her messages if she signs them as “acting director” and send them to the bureau’s legal office. He invited employees to stop by his office for doughnuts.

“I’ll be here either until the court or the president tells me otherwise,” Mulvaney told reporters.

The standoff over who is in charge of the consumer protection agency erupted last week when former director Richard Cordray — a nemesis for conservative Republicans and business interests in Washington — abruptly resigned and named English as his successor.

President Donald Trump countered by appointing Mulvaney, who is the White House budget director.

English argues the law that created the agency in 2011 stipulates she should be acting director following Cordray's resignation. Her lawsuit against Mulvaney asks the court to deny the Trump administration’s claim that another law gives the president the power to name an acting director.

The White House and bureau lawyers say there are precedents showing that Trump has the power to fill temporary vacancies in federal agencies even when another law of succession may be on the books.

The president must name a permanent bureau chief who would also have to be confirmed by the Senate.

Mulvaney would be a controversial choice to take over the bureau. He is a former small business owner and congressman who once called the agency a “sick, sad” joke that should be abolished.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was founded after the global financial crisis of 2008. Its job is to protect consumers against predatory lending and and other questionable practices by banks, credit card companies, lenders, and debt collectors.

Republicans, including Mulvaney have said the agency has too much power and loads down banks with too much bureaucracy.

White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Monday the agency has always been about pushing a political agenda and ambitions instead of protecting consumers.

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