Late Friday, President Trump appointed current White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to the position of acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) following the sudden resignation of Richard Cordray. In doing so, Trump selected a federal government official to concurrently oversee an independent watchdog agency, which is, uh, gutsy at best.
Some would, of course, call this Trump move an unethical one. That would include Leandra English, who was named as a temporary successor by Cordray when he vacated his position. As such, lawyers for English have sued the Trump administration while also naming Mulvaney and arguing that Cordray named English as deputy director, which (per the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform legislation that Trump plans to roll back) entitles her to step in as acting director. Deepak Gupta, a lawyer for English, made this statement:
“The President’s attempt to install a White House official at the head of independent agency — while allowing that officer to simultaneously serve in the White House — is unprecedented,. The law is clear: Ms. English is acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until the Senate confirms a new director.”
In response to English’s filing, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called lawsuit a “stunt” while defending Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney:
“The administration is aware of the suit filed this evening by Deputy Director English. However the law is clear: Director Mulvaney is the Acting Director of the CFPB. Now that the CFPB’s own General Counsel — who was hired under Richard Cordray — has notified the Bureau’s leadership that she agrees with the Administration’s and DOJ’s reading of the law, there should be no question that Director Mulvaney is the Acting Director. It is unfortunate that Mr. Cordray decided to put his political ambition above the interests of consumers with this stunt.”
No one’s really sure who will be running the CFPB come Monday, but it sure seems that the White House is digging its heels in for a fight. However and given Mulvaney’s recent history of arguing that cutting food stamps was an act of “compassion” for taxpayers, folks could be forgiven for thinking he’s a sketchy choice to lead a watchdog organization. And of course, Mulvaney is already the Trump budget director, so who really knows what the president was thinking with this appointment.