Court backs Trump over in­terim con­sumer watch­dog head


A U.S. District Court judge sided with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in a le­gal bat­tle over who should be in charge of the U.S. con­sumer fi­nance watch­dog, al­low­ing White House bud­get di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney to serve as act­ing head.

Judge Ti­mothy Kelly ruled against Le­an­dra English, deputy di­rec­tor of the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau (CFPB) who claimed to be its right­ful in­terim di­rec­tor. He de­nied her re­quest for a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der to block Mul­vaney's ap­point­ment.

She had ar­gued in a law­suit suit filed on Sun­day that the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street re­form law that cre­ated the CFPB stip­u­lates that the agency's deputy di­rec­tor is to take over in the short term.

In its de­fense filed, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said the 1998 Fed­eral Va­can­cies Act gives the White House the ul­ti­mate power to say who is in charge and grant­ing the re­strain­ing or­der would be an ex­tra­or­di­nary in­tru­sion into the ex­ec­u­tive branch.

Kelly sided with the White House's in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the law fol­low­ing a hear­ing.

"Un­de­ni­ably, the CFPB was in­tended to be in­de­pen­dent, but it is part of the ex­ec­u­tive branch," Kelly, a Trump ap­pointee, said.

The de­ci­sion was a blow for Democrats and con­sumer ad­vo­cacy groups who had ral­lied to English's cause, fear­ing the agency will be weak­ened by Mul­vaney, one of its fiercest crit­ics.

CFPB Di­rec­tor Richard Cor­dray, a Demo­crat ap­pointed by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­signed on Fri­day and named English to lead the agency un­til a new di­rec­tor was con­firmed by the U.S. Se­nate, a process that could take months.

Hours later, Trump said Mul­vaney would lead the agency on an in­terim ba­sis, spark­ing an un­prece­dented show­down.

The CFPB was cre­ated to crack down on preda­tory fi­nan­cial prac­tices after the 20072009 fi­nan­cial cri­sis, but it is re­viled by Repub­li­cans who say it is too pow­er­ful. Speak­ing to re­porters out­side the court in Wash­ing­ton, English's lawyer, Deepak Gupta, said he would ul­ti­mately seek to take the case to a higher court.

"I think what­ever hap­pens here there is go­ing to be an ap­peal," he said.

The White House ap­plauded the rul­ing. "It's time for the Democrats to stop en­abling this brazen po­lit­i­cal stunt by a rogue em­ployee and al­low Act­ing Di­rec­tor Mul­vaney to con­tinue the bureau's smooth tran­si­tion into an agency that truly serves to help con­sumers," Deputy Press Sec­re­tary Raj Shah said.


Euro­pean Union's chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier holds a speech at the Berlin Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence on Euro­pean Se­cu­rity and De­fence in Ger­many.

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