Donald Trump wins, CFPB loses, after judge allows Mick Mulvaney to take over

A Trump-appointed judge sides with the administration, leaving the CFPB's future in the air

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 29, 2017 7:58AM (EST)

 (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump's choice to take over the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau will remain in place, thanks to a ruling on Tuesday by a Trump-appointed federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly — appointed to the bench by the White House earlier this year — didn't block Trump's request to appoint budget director Mick Mulvaney as the acting head of the agency. The decision ended what seemed like a two-day stalemate over who would lead the agency after the departure of CFPB head Richard Cordray. Cordray chose Leandra English to lead the department. Although Kelly admitted that the case raised important constitutional issues, according to The Washington Post, he did not grant English's request for a temporary restraining order so that Mulvaney could not take over the agency.

"It’s time for the Democrats to stop enabling this brazen political stunt by a rogue employee and allow Acting Director Mulvaney to continue the Bureau’s smooth transition into an agency that truly serves to help consumers," Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.

During his brief tenure as acting head of the CFPB, Mulvaney has implemented a 30-day freeze on regulations and hiring and could impose even more radical changes, according to Politico. Rumored actions included reducing penalties for violators and legalizing actions that were previously deemed to be unethical. Considering that Mulvaney once referred to the bureau as a "joke," it has been difficult for many of his critics to believe him when he has said that he does not wish to derail the agency's mission of protecting consumers from predatory financial industries.

"Democrats are talking about how he’s going to burn the agency down. You’re not going to see any of that. There are several areas where the bureau has overstepped its authority; it’s well recognized that these are missteps," Mulvaney spokesman John Czwartacki told Politico.

Because Mulvaney would only be a temporary replacement, there is considerable speculation over who would ultimately be the permanent director after Cordray. The main candidates being discussed are House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki and former acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Cfpb Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Donald Trump Mick Mulvaney