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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 MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race 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 CordrayDems go on offense against GOP lawsuit on pre-existing conditions Trump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas 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 Ann WarrenDNA is irrelevant — Elizabeth Warren is simply not Cherokee The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | WHCA criticizes Trump for praising lawmaker who assaulted reporter | Trump takes harder line on Saudis Clinton aide: Chances 'highly unlikely' but 'not zero' Hillary will run for president again MORE (D-Mass.), who have pointed to Mulvaney's past rhetoric about the agency.