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Top CFPB lawyer sides with Trump over Mulvaney appointment

Top CFPB lawyer sides with Trump over Mulvaney appointment
© Camille Fine

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) general counsel has sided with the Trump administration over its appointment of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE to temporarily lead the agency, according to a memo obtained by Politico.

"As General Counsel for the Bureau, it is my legal opinion that the President possesses the authority to designate an Acting Director for the Bureau," Mary McLeod wrote in a memo from Nov. 25, according to Politico.

"I advise all Bureau personnel to act consistently with the understanding that Director Mulvaney is the Acting Director of the CFPB," she continued. 

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News of the memo comes as Leandra English, who was chosen by former CFPB Director Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayWill the Biden CFPB clamp down on innovation and regulatory sandboxes? Biden picks for financial agencies offer preview of regulatory agenda Biden's Wall Street watchdog picks to offer clues on regulations MORE to be the acting director, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Trump and Mulvaney in an effort to block Trump's pick from taking over as interim leader.

While the Justice Department has maintained Trump is allowed to choose Mulvaney through the 1998 Federal Vacancies Act, English said on Sunday the CFPB's line of succession actually lies in the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the agency in 2010. 

“The president’s purported or intended appointment of defendant Mulvaney as Acting Director of the CFPB is unlawful,” English's complaint reads, adding that the administration's use of the Federal Vacancies Act is “an obvious contravention of Congress’s statutory scheme” that “cannot be reconciled with Dodd-Frank’s mandatory language.”

Trump's appointment of Mulvaney, which would be temporary, has sparked concern among Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWorld passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Poll: 56 percent say wealth tax is part of solution to inequality Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents MORE (D-Mass.), who have pointed to Mulvaney's past rhetoric about the agency.