Both departing director Richard Cordray — an Obama appointee long criticized by Congressional Republicans as overzealous — and the White House say they have the right to designate an interim leader until a per
manent one is approved by Congress.
When Cordray tendered his resignation on Friday, he elevated Leandra English, who was the agency’s chief of staff, into the deputy director position. Under the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, English would become acting director in Cordray’s absence. Cordray specifically cited the law when he moved English, an ally of his, into that position.
That set up the battle with the White House, as Corday’s move was clearly seen an attempt to stop Trump from shaping the agency in the months ahead. Getting a permanent replacement approved by the Senate could take months.
The president’s pick for temporary appointee, Mick Mulvaney, had been widely anticipated. Mulvaney, currently director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been an outspoken critic of the agency and is expected to pull back on many of Cordray’s actions in the six years since he was appointed.
Trump announced he was picking Mulvaney within a few hours of Cordray’s announcement on Friday.
The administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the White House’s thinking, called Trump’s appointment of an acting director a “routine move” and cited the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, a different one than Cordray cited.
Whoever is right under the law, the clashing appointments raise the question of what happens when the two new heads show up and try to sit at the same desk and give orders?
One of the administrative officials speaking Saturday, pressed by reporters about the awkward situation, said she didn’t anticipate Mulvaney would have any trouble when he started working Monday. Referring to Cordray’s pick, English, the official added that English was expected to also show up, too — but as deputy director.