Barney Frank slams Trump's appointment of Mulvaney at CFPB

Barney Frank slams Trump's appointment of Mulvaney at CFPB
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Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who co-authored the 2010 law that established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), blasted the White House's claim that President Trump has the authority to install an interim director at the watchdog agency.

In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Frank said that the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act specifically states that the CFPB's deputy director will head the agency in the absence of a permanent director – a move he said is intended to protect the agency's independence.

"We gave a lot of attention to how to structure the CFPB and how to protect its independence, because its job is to go after some very powerful forces in the economy," he told CNN.

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"The point is, we intend what [former CFPB Director Richard] Cordray was doing to have this kind of autonomy."

Frank's comments came after Cordray named chief of staff Leandra English to the deputy director position just before stepping down from atop the CFPB. Hours later, Trump tapped White House budget chief Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Trump pick to head watchdog agency is who consumers need Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE as the agency's acting director, setting up a showdown at the CFPB.

The episode has sparked a conflict over who is in charge at the agency in the absence of a permanent director. The White House has said that the Federal Vacancies Act of 1998 gives Trump the authority to override the line of succession at the CFPB.

But Frank said that the CFPB is intended to operate independently from the White House, and that Trump's move to appoint Mulvaney as its interim director compromises the agency's mission of taking on powerful financial institutions.

He told CNN, however, that he did not know how Mulvaney's appointment could be challenged. 

"This is unprecedented," he said. "I literally don't know."