CFPB, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Dodd-Frank, Donald Trump, Leandra English, Mike Mulvaney, restraining order

Showdown At The CFPB Corral

By Susan Kuebler

The latest in a political crisis, that may reach Constitutional proportions, occurred late Sunday when Leandra English, who had been named Acting Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau by outgoing Director Richard Cordray on Friday, filed suit in federal court for an Emergency Temporary Restraining Order.  As plaintiff, Ms. English named both Donald Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States and John Michael Mulvaney, in his capacity as the person claiming to be the acting Director of the CFPB, as defendants. [emphasis added]

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau was established by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 which established specific guidelines regarding the succession process within the Bureau.  In general, the outgoing Director would name an acting Director until such time as a permanent Director could be confirmed by Congress.  Ms. English cited this legislation in her request for the injunction.

However, Donald Trump decided to ignore this legislation, instead turning to the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, and backed by the Department of Justice, announced his appointment of Michael Mulvaney, the current head of the Office of Management and Budget to be the new acting Director. He claims that this legislation gives him  the authority to override the specific provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, although proponents of the Act claim it was written specifically to avoid just such a situation.

As many had predicted, this was going to be an issue that would be settled by the courts.  If granted, this restraining order would temporarily determine who is actually in charge of running the Bureau.  Without it, there could be two people claiming to be in charge on Monday, each citing their own legislative justification.

Trump has already expressed his disdain for the Bureau in two tweets over the weekend.

Regardless of the merits of Trump’s claim of authority to make this appointment, he has now needlessly diverted attention away from the GOP tax reform efforts in the Senate.  And the fact that the Jeff Sessions’ run Department of Justice has backed his claim doesn’t carry as much weight as it normally would.

For future historians and students of political science, this may rank right along side the time there were three men who claimed to be the rightful governor of Georgia.  In that situation, three-term governor Eugene Talmadge had been elected to a fourth, non-consecutive term, but died before he was sworn in.  The man who won the job of Lt. Governor, Melvin Thompson, claimed that the governorship was his.  Eugene’s son Herman, who had also received some write-in votes, was selected by the Georgia legislature to be governor, while the previous governor, Ellis Arnall, refused to step down until a successor was properly named (he supported Thompson’s claim).  Herman Talmadge took physical control of the Governor’s office and locked Arnall out.  The state supreme court eventually ruled that the legislature had acted unlawfully and the governorship was awarded to Thompson.  In a special election held the following year, Herman Talmadge was elected to serve out the remainder of his father’s fourth term in office.

Thanks to Trump, we may see a replay of the above scenario again.  But hopefully the courts will grant the injunction until such time as the correct legal processes can be followed.  That we have been reduced to such measures in the 21st century demonstrates the level of destruction that Trump is doing to our government and our democracy.

"All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well". Julian of Norwich.

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