President Donald Trump openly discussed firing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray with members of Congress this week while signing the resolution to repeal the CFPB’s controversial arbitration rule, CNBC’s Kayla Tausche reported Friday.
On Wednesday, Trump signed H.J. Res. 111, which overturned the arbitration rule, under a provision of the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn certain regulatory rules issued by federal agencies by within 60 days of the rules being announced.
The meeting was not open to the media, but the signing was attended by several top Congressional Republicans, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who recently announced that he would not be running for re-election.
During the session, Trump, Hensarling, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc., and others discussed firing Cordray from his position at the CFPB, something that Hensarling has repeatedly called for in recent years.
According to Tausche’s report, Hensarling told Trump that he would “expend less energy undoing the CFPB's actions” if he fired Cordray, which led to a lively, but-short-lived discussion about firing Cordray.
From Taushche’s piece:
In response, Trump went around the room and asked what he should do about Cordray, who has three months until the Feb. 1 filing deadline to run for governor of Ohio. According to three of the attendees, the view shared by Trump and the White House view is not to make Cordray a "martyr" – the assumption being that ceremoniously ousting him would afford him hero status among the left and fundraising momentum in a key swing state.
Hensarling and Rep. Sean Duffy were said to push doggedly for Cordray to be fired, suggesting they could write letters to expedite the process. But a White House official notes the views were not unanimous, with Rep. Patrick McHenry disagreeing with his Capitol Hill colleagues.
According to Tausche’s report, the entrance of White House chief of staff John Kelly ended the discussion quickly.
Cordray’s fate at the CFPB and his future beyond that have been a topic of debate and discussion throughout Washington, D.C. and beyond ever since Trump won the election last year.
It was long believed that Cordray planned to run for governor of Ohio, with his rumored declaration of his intention to run coming and going several times in the last few months.
Cordray was rumored to announce a bid for Ohio governor after the bureau published its much-anticipated final payday lending rule, but the bureau announced the rule at the beginning of October, and Cordray has still yet to reveal if he is running for Ohio governor or not.
While Cordray has apparently not decided to leave on his terms yet, what’s standing in the way of Trump firing him is, as Tausche reported, the impact on the Ohio gubernatorial race.
Back in April, Cordray reportedly had dinner with White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who supposedly gave Cordray an “ultimatum” of either leave on his terms or be fired.
Cohn apparently left that meal convinced that Cordray planned to run in Ohio, but it’s now seven months later and Cordray is still in office, and making unsuccessful personal pleas to Trump to save CFPB rules.
Now, Cordray has the best of both worlds. He’s still at the CFPB and able to lead its operations and he still has time to decide whether or not he’s going to run.
Cordray’s term at the CFPB runs through July 2018, so one way or another, he’ll be done at the CFPB then. What happens between now and then will be the result of future conversations like the one that took place this week in the Oval Office.