CFPB Director Richard Cordray speaks out about his controversial role

"The independence of a consumer watchdog is very much worth fighting for"

As the country battles over the constitutionality of the consumer watchdog agency created after the financial crisis to protect consumers, the man sitting at the top of the agency simply carries on with his day-to-day responsibilities.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray finally voiced his thoughts on the controversy surrounding his job and agency on's Speakeasy with John Harwood on Thursday.

Back in January, Cordray did go on record saying that the bureau has no plans to stop enforcing existing consumer protection rules despite the change with a Trump administration.

Since that point in time, however, the situation has only escalated.

Besides the ongoing case between PHH and the CFPB, the bureau currently has four possible outcomes at play that involve an act of Congress, seen herehere, here and here to change its structure.

And Cordray gives his thoughts on all of this during his in-depth interview with CNBC.

Besides being a rare interview opportunity with Cordray, the scene for the interview is just as peculiar.

Casually sitting with John Harwood, CNBC chief Washington correspondent, in a diner in his hometown of Grove City, Ohio, Cordray explained his thoughts on the uproar around role in the government.

The interview opens with a zinger. As a refresher, besides being the director of the CFPB, Cordray also competed on Jeopardy, claiming a few wins too.  

  • John Harwood: Let's play "Jeopardy!" The category is federal regulators, and the clue is biggest target on his back in all of Washington.
  • Richard Cordray: Well, I don't know how to answer that. There are different points of view.
  • Harwood: Wait, isn't the answer, "Who is Richard Cordray?"

On a more serious note, Harwood later asked Cordray:

  • Harwood: For you personally, is this a job worth fighting for?
  • Cordray: I think that the independence of a consumer watchdog is very much worth fighting for. From the outset there have been, if you ask 10 people, they have 10 different opinions about what's the right way to do this or to do that. My job is to take the law that has been given me and do the best I can to stand up for people. And that is what we are doing and it's good work, John. It's really important work.
  • Harwood: What do you expect to happen?
  • Cordray: Day in day out, I go in and do my job. We have had significant matters in this past year. We had the matter against Wells Fargo where — just to remind your viewers — well over a million accounts were opened where consumers didn't know anything about it, weren't asked for their consent, often it cost them money. That was a major, major violation, and we took action against that.

These are only a few snippets of the interview. Check out the CNBC article for the full-length interview.

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