Cordray on CFPB fight: The law is on my side

The former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said in a Monday night interview that the law is on his side in a legal fight with President Trump over who will lead the agency until a permanent replacement is confirmed by the Senate.

On Friday, the day he resigned, Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayOvernight Finance: Wells Fargo hit with B fine | Top lawmakers want execs punished | Banks cash in on tax law | GOP chair blasts FDIC over data security Hensarling, Waters say Wells Fargo execs should be punished after record fine Americans are set for relief from an Obama-era financial rule MORE elevated his chief of staff, Leandra English, to deputy director of the CFPB. Hours later, Trump said Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOvernight Finance: Wells Fargo hit with B fine | Top lawmakers want execs punished | Banks cash in on tax law | GOP chair blasts FDIC over data security Wells Fargo to pay billion fine to settle federal probes of mortgage, insurance sales Overnight Finance: IMF chief warns against US-China trade war | Trump, Abe can't strike deal on tariff exemptions | Republicans push Trump to rescind Gateway funds MORE, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, was in charge.

"The law is clear here. It says that the director, that was me on Friday, shall appoint a deputy director. I did that," Cordray said on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show." 

Cordray said the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which created the consumer protection agency, is unequivocal on this point.

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"It then says very clearly and simply that if the deputy director is there is an absence, the deputy director becomes the acting director," he said. 

The White House and Justice Department, however, say appointing Mulvaney was within the president's authority under the Vacancies Act.

On Sunday, English sued Trump to block Mulvaney's appointment, saying he had illegally superseded the CFPB's line of succession. 

Cordray said the two conflicting stances make this an ideal case to be determined in a courtroom.

"This is the kind of disagreement that involves two different laws. They conflict with one another. The right place to hash that out is in the courts, which is where it is now. It shouldn't be decided by name-calling and tweets and insults. It should be decided by people presenting their arguments and a judge thinking it over," Cordray said.

Both Mulvaney and English currently claim to head the CFPB, putting employees in the middle of a leadership tussle.

"If the trial courts' decision is something one party or another disagrees with, it will go to the court of appeals and the court of appeals will decide it. That's a very orderly process that's appropriate," Cordray said.

He did not address rumors that his retirement was meant to clear the way for an Ohio gubernatorial bid, telling Maddow that his term was nearing its end and that his departure from the CFPB had only been a matter of time.
 
As a congressman, Mulvaney sponsored bills to eliminate the CFPB, which he has called a "sick, sad joke" with no reason to exist. On Monday, he instituted a 30-day hiring and regulatory freeze.