Justice Dept says Trump has authority to appoint CFPB acting director

The Justice Department released a memo on Saturday arguing that it is well within President Trump’s authority to appoint White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney as the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

In a memo dated Nov. 25, Steven Engel, the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, said that the 1998 Federal Vacancies Act gives the president full authority to appoint an acting director to the watchdog agency, regardless of the CFPB’s established line of succession.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which established the CFPB, states that the deputy director is to head the agency in the absence of a permanent director. 


“The fact that the Deputy Director may serve as Acting Director by operation of the statute, however, does not displace the President’s authority under the Vacancies Reform Act,” Engel wrote in the Saturday memo. 

The memo lends credence to the White House’s assertion that Trump is legally allowed to appoint an acting director for the agency. 

Former CFPB Director Richard Cordray promoted chief of staff Leandra English to deputy director post on Friday, hours before he stepped down from atop the agency. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, that move would set English up to serve as the CFPB’s acting director.

But hours later, Trump tapped Mulvaney to serve as interim director, setting up a fight between the White House and the CFPB and leaving it unclear who, exactly, is in charge of the consumer watchdog agency.

Tags Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Justice Department Mick Mulvaney

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