GOP senators tell Trump to fire consumer bureau chief

GOP senators tell Trump to fire consumer bureau chief
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A pair of Republican senators are calling on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE to immediately fire one of the nation’s top financial regulators.

In a letter sent to the Trump transition Monday, Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Utah) made the case for the immediate removal of Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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Echoing long-term GOP gripes that the agency is too powerful and lacks sufficient oversight, they waded into a murky legal debate about Cordray’s future running the agency.

"It's time to fire King Richard," said Sasse. "President-elect Trump has the authority to remove Mr. Cordray and that's exactly what the American people deserve."

In their letter, the pair argued that a recent federal court ruling that the CFPB’s structure is unconstitutional gives Trump the power to remove Cordray from his post as soon as he becomes president.

That would run counter to Cordray’s stated plans, as he has said he has every intention of serving out his full term, which does not expire until July 2018.

As the lone director of the agency, which was created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, Cordray or any CFPB director would exert huge influence on the direction of the agency.

And the bureau has been a partisan battleground ever since its creation, with Republicans repeatedly trying to scrap Cordray’s position and install a bipartisan commission at the agency instead.

But with Democrats holding firm against those changes, Republicans are now calling on Trump to simply remove Cordray outright.

Sasse and Lee argued that an October ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit gives Trump the greenlight to scrap Cordray. There, a three-judge panel ruled that the agency’s status as an independent agency with a single director was unconstitutional, as it placed too much power in the hands of a single person.

The CFPB is currently requesting a review of that ruling, but if it stands, it would give Trump the power to remove Cordray at will. Under current law, Cordray could only be removed for cause, if he is found to have misused his position in a serious fashion.

But Sasse and Lee see no reason to wait for the legal dust to settle.

“The president retains constitutional authority to remove the director until a valid court order says otherwise. Like all government officials, the president is sworn to uphold the Constitution and is not duty-bound to respect unconstitutional statutes,” the senators wrote.