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With two appointments, confusion clouds leadership of CFPB

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With two appointments, confusion clouds leadership of CFPB

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The nominations of two different people to act as interim head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created confusion over who is truly in charge of the bureau.

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President Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to lead the CFPB on an interim basis, after Director Richard Cordray announced he would be retiring from his post at the end of the day Friday. But in his last act as director, Cordray promoted his chief of staff, Leandra English, to lead the agency as deputy director.

The CFPB was established during the Obama administration as a bulwark against predatory banking practices.

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There have been questions as to whether Trump has the power to nominate Mulvaney to the post. The White House made the case today that President Trump does have the power to do this under the authority of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, calling the interim appointment a "typical, routine move."

Mick MulvaneyThe Associated Press
Mick Mulvaney

A senior administration official told reporters Saturday that Cordray's actions seem to indicate he's "trying to provoke" a legal battle.

Cordray, however, said he was only acting under the legal authority given him.

"The law authorized me to appoint a deputy director, and I did so," Cordray said in an interview with the Washington Post. "My understanding of the law is that the deputy director serves as the acting director upon my resignation. If there are disagreements about these issues, the appropriate place to settle them would be in the courts."

Legal experts and politicians appear to be split on the issue of the CFPB director's succession.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a tweeted an excerpt of the Dodd-Frank Act, the legislation that established the CFPB after the 2008 financial crisis, which indicated the deputy director "serve as acting director in the absence or unavailability of the Director."

The Dodd-Frank Act is clear: if there is a @CFPB Director vacancy, the Deputy Director becomes Acting Director. @realDonaldTrump can’t override that. pic.twitter.com/r949ccaJAb

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) November 25, 2017

The White House elaborated on its defense of the nomination, referencing the support of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel.

Trump tweeted on the matter, calling the CFPB a "total disaster as run by the former administration's pick," and promising: "We will bring it back to life!"

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, has been a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations pick. Financial Institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2017

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