Fight for control of US consumer watchdog, White House stands firm on its pick | News | DW | 27.11.2017
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Fight for control of US consumer watchdog, White House stands firm on its pick

The Trump administration has backed its pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney. Both Mulvaney and former chief of staff Leandra English have claimed to be the agency's acting director.

The Trump administration has rejected Leandra English's claim that she was active director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), saying "there should be no question" that White House budget director Mick Mulvaney was in charge.

The statement comes after both English and Mulvaney claimed Monday to be the new head of the agency. English had been promoted from her role as chief of staff by outgoing head Richard Cordray on Friday, while Mulvaney was appointed last week by President Donald Trump.

Read more: A look at Trumponomics and its possible economic impact

Believing she had officially been given the role last week, English sent a department-wide email on Monday morning welcoming everyone back from the Thanksgiving holiday, signing it "Acting Director." A short time later, Mulvaney sent his own email telling staff to "disregard" any instructions from English and offering doughnuts.

Later, Mulvaney's communications director tweeted a picture of him "hard at work as acting director," with the bureau's transition handbook placed visibly on his table.

The White House has moved to justify Mulvaney's appointment by releasing legal memos that supposedly prove that only the president has the power to appoint the agency's acting director. It also claims the Obama administration acted similarly when filling a vacancy on the National Labor Relations Board.

English, meanwhile, has filed a lawsuit against Trump and Mulvaney, contending that federal law puts her in interim charge. The lawsuit means a federal court will decide which law applies when filling a temporary leadership vacancy at a relatively new government agency.

Read more: Barack Obama's record is a legacy under threat

Trump will ultimately decide who heads the CFPB on a permanent basis, but that choice must be approved by the US Senate — a process likely to take months.

Republicans aim to draw back government overreach

The CFPB, the brainchild of progressive Democrat Elizabeth Warren, was founded in 2011 in the wake of the global financial crisis. The agency is tasked with protecting consumers from predatory lending mortgage practices. It received vocal plaudits for its work from Trump's predecessor, former President Barack Obama.

It has, however, drawn significant ire from "small government" advocates in the Republican ranks. Mulvaney himself has in the past described the agency as a "joke," and is widely expected to dismantle much of what it has achieved in the past decade.

Read more: Citibank fined millions for scamming customers

Trump has also accused the CFPB of regulatory overreach. 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."

dm/cmk (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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