President Donald Trump is currently at war with Democrats over when he gets to install Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as the new temporary head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"The process for succession laid out in Dodd Frank is clear: Leandra English, not Mick Mulvaney, is the acting director of the CFPB," wrote Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "By attempting to install Mr. Mulvaney as director, the Trump administration is ignoring the established, proper, legal order of succession that we purposefully put in place, in order to put a fox in charge of the hen house."
The previous CFPB director, Richard Cordray, announced his resignation last week in advance of what political watchers anticipated would be a bid for Ohio's governorship in 2018. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, Cordray was given the right to appoint his own temporary successor, Democrats and Corday argued. Corday tapped Leandra English to fill his shoes after leaving the office. On Friday, however, Trump surprised politics watchers by instead designating his own budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, to take over the agency in Cordray's stead.
As Reuters reporter Pete Schroeder pointed out on Twitter, there are also concerns that Mulvaney would have too much power because of his multiple portfolios that cause him to report directly to the president.
Part of the controversy over Trump's appointment of Mulvaney is that the former South Carolina congressman had previously described the agency as "a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anybody." He also referred to the bureau as "sick" and a "sad" joke.
Trump defended his decision to appoint Mulvaney on Friday — despite outgoing CFPB head Richard Cordray appointing Leandra English as his temporary successor in clear accord with the law — with a pair of Saturday tweets.
Trump's decision is being supported by the Justice Department, whose general counsel Mary McLeod produced a memo on Sunday concluding that Trump had the authority as president to appoint the CFPB's new head. By contrast, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has denounced Trump's decision. Warren helped create the consumer protection agency and is widely considered to be a major contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
English has a reputation for being a professional who tries to avoid getting involved in political fights, one that earned her high praise from outgoing head Cordray when he named her as his temporary successor.
"Leandra is a seasoned professional who has spent her career of public service focused on promoting smooth and efficient operations. As deputy director, we will continue to benefit from Leandra’s in-depth knowledge of the operational needs of this agency and its staff," Cordray wrote.