CFPB battle swells as Trump, Mulvaney square off with agency head

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney started his first day as interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), where he was greeted by a lawsuit and a public outcry denouncing his appointment.

CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English was named acting director of the agency when the former head, Richard Cordray, departed. However, on Friday, President Donald Trump named Mulvaney to the interim director post. On Sunday, English filed a lawsuit to block Mulvaney’s appointment, alleging that it’s unconstitutional.

Mulvaney told CFPB staff on Monday to disregard any instructions they received from English, according to a memo seen by FOX Business.

“The appointment of a second acting director by the White House only creates uncertainty for an agency that so far has done its job protecting consumers and keeping Wall Street in check,” Mike Litt, consumer campaign director at U.S. PIRG, told FOX Business. Litt was part of a group protesting Mulvaney’s new role at the CFPB on Monday morning.

President Donald Trump cited the Federal Vacancies Act of 1988 to support Mulvaney’s appointment, however, the law includes language that English perceives as an exception in this case, since Dodd-Frank expressly provides a pathway for interim leadership at the CFPB, according to the lawsuit.

The Department of Justice has said the president is justified in using the Federal Vacancies Act to appoint Mulvaney. So has legal counsel for the CFPB.

The CFPB did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.

However, the OMB director is a controversial interim pick for another reason: He has been a staunch critic of the CFPB in the past, even suggesting it should be eliminated entirely.

“The president should quit playing games and nominate a director who will stand up for consumers, who isn't a creature of the very industries the CFPB regulates, and who can earn a bipartisan confirmation in the Senate," consumer watchdog group Allied Progress said in a statement on Monday. The group supports English’s claim to the acting director’s post.

The entire situation would be resolved should Trump nominate, and the Senate confirm, a permanent director. However, regardless of whether Mulvaney serves as interim director, it is widely expected that Trump will pick a Republican to head the agency full-time, who will likely implement changes to the structure, practices and oversight of the bureau – to the chagrin of Democrats.

Former OMB Director Richard Cordray, who was appointed by President Obama, unexpectedly resigned from his post last week. His full term wasn’t set to expire until July.