Trump’s choice for CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, tells staff to ignore Leandra English, who says she is the “acting director”


The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, attends the daily briefing at the White House. (Reuters / Carlos Barria / File Photo)

As a Republican congressman, Mick Mulvaney called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a "joke" and said he wished it did not exist. On Monday, Mulvaney showed up at the agency's DC offices with a bag of donuts and a new title: boss.

But after a frantic weekend of political and legal positions, the arrival of Mulvaney represented a new escalation of tensions over who will eventually lead the agency. A day earlier, Leandra English filed a lawsuit alleging that she was the "acting director".

The agency's leadership was called into question last Friday when Richard Cordray resigned as director of CFPB and said his chief of staff, English, temporarily replaced him. A few hours later, Trump appointed Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and critic of CFPB for a long time, for work.

Both parties are pointing to the small print in mourning of federal statutes to claim authority over the work that is run by one of the most controversial and powerful banking industry regulators. English filed a lawsuit on Sunday night, requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent Trump from appointing Mulvaney's interim director.

[Leandra English, the woman at the center of a White House battle for control of the CFPB, files lawsuit against Trump pick to lead watchdog agency]

Mulvaney and English even sent dueling emails to CFPB probably confused 1,600 employees. English said in his message: "I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving in mind, I wanted to take a moment to share my gratitude to all of you for your service." English finalized the note with its title claimed: "Acting Director".

Shortly after, Mulvaney, already in the direction of the director Office, according to the photos taken by his staff, responded with his own email.

"It has struck me that Mrs. English has contacted many of you this morning by email in an attempt to exercise certain duties of the acting Director This is unfortunate but, in the atmosphere of the day, probably not be unexpected, "he said.

"Please ignore any instruction you receive from Ms. English in your presumed capacity as interim director." Mulvaney also asked CFPB employees to report any additional professional English communication to the attorney general's office.

"I apologize for being the first to hear from me, but under the circumstances, I guess it's necessary, if you're at 1700 G Street today, go to the fourth floor to say hello and have a donut."

Mulvaney's spokesman then sent a photo of evidence on Twitter of empty boxes with half a single donut covered in chocolate remaining.

In another photo, Mulvaney showed off with his jacket and Inside bright multi-colored socks, meeting with the top staff at the agency.

The battle for control of the agency threatens to slow down the Trump administration's efforts to roll back financial regulations. While Trump has installed new leadership at the top of several other regulatory agencies, many of which have already adopted a more business-friendly tone, the CFPB has continued to aggressively push the rules that irritated Wall Street. The agency has broad powers to regulate financial firms, from banks, credit card companies to payday lenders, and impose fines for irregularities.

That is likely to change under any administration of Trump, but particularly Mulvaney. In a 2014 video interview with the Credit Union Times, Mulvaney complained that it might even be difficult for the CFPB to return a phone call. "The place is a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will work if it has no responsibility to anyone."

The agency is a "joke". . . in a sad and sick way, "he said.

Meanwhile, legal limbo could threaten the validity of any decision made by Mulvaney or English in the next few days, legal experts have said.

" People are being investigated by the CFPB all the time, "said Alan Kaplinsky, head of the Consumer Financial Services Group at the Ballard Spahr law firm, but any company that is thinking of setting up with the agency now faces an important question, he said. "Are you solving it with Mulvaney? Are you solving it with English? "

" It will create absolute chaos. You will not be able to fix anything, "he said.

The Washington Post wants to talk to CFPB employees about the news today. To contact a journalist, send an email to [email protected], or contact Twitter or Signal.

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