CFPB Political Circus Hits Day Two With More Memos, Protests

Updated on
  • Mulvaney tries to clear up confusion over who’s in charge
  • Leandra English plans to spend day at agency’s headquarters
Mick Mulvaney discusses his role at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

It’s day two of the political circus engulfing the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with dueling bosses still asserting they’re both in charge.

Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s pick to be acting director, started Tuesday by reminding employees to ignore orders from his rival for the post, Leandra English. Meanwhile, English announced to the world -- via a tweet from her lawyer -- that she plans to spend the day at CFPB headquarters as an acting director would: meeting with agency staff and talking with outside consumer groups.

Mulvaney, who plans to split his time between the CFPB and his permanent job as White House budget director, apologized to employees for having to tell them again to disregard English’s instructions.

He didn’t reveal whether the two have shared any awkward moments at the water cooler, or if they’ve even met. Mulvaney did say that he hoped his latest note means there won’t be “any more misunderstandings” about who’s in control. To further demonstrate he’s running things, Mulvaney started a twitter account identifying himself as the CFPB director.

But since English has sued Mulvaney and Trump, a federal judge will probably have to clear up confusion over who gets the throne. U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly -- a Trump appointee -- has yet to rule on a request from English for a temporary restraining order preventing Trump from appointing Mulvaney.

Late Monday, Justice Department lawyers filed written opposition to English’s bid to run the CFPB. Kelly, who heard about 40 minutes of arguments earlier Monday, has set a follow-up hearing for Tuesday afternoon.

Bewildered Staff

While it’s becoming increasingly clear that Mulvaney may ultimately get to stay put -- at least until a permanent replacement is named and confirmed by the Senate -- the kerfuffle has created uncertainty around any work that happens at the CFPB and left its hundreds of employees confused and overwhelmed.

In a separate memo to staff Monday evening, Mulvaney reiterated that while he won’t “burn the place down,” he intends to run the agency much differently than Richard Cordray, the just-departed director who was appointed by Barack Obama. Created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB is going through its first transition, which is “the nature of the world we work in,” Mulvaney wrote.

“Things are going to be different,” Mulvaney wrote on Monday. “I consider the CFPB to be part of the executive branch of government. That means that it is charged with executing the laws.”

Mulvaney’s comments are sure to rile Democrats including Senator Elizabeth Warren, who insists the agency is independent of the president and that English is the rightful interim director. Warren joined consumer advocates on Tuesday at a protest outside the bureau. She has vowed to delay Trump administration efforts to install someone atop the bureau.

No Doughnuts

“I’m here today because I believe no one should get cheated on credit cards, on mortgages, on students loans,” Warren said during the rally. “For six years, this agency has fought to give consumers a chance. Now, it is time for us to fight for the agency.”

There was no indication that Mulvaney greeted her with doughnuts.

— With assistance by Andrew M Harris

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