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Federal judge again backs Trump, Mulvaney in fight to lead CFPB

Leandra English’s bid to be acting director foiled for the second time

It appears that Mick Mulvaney’s time as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is nowhere close to being done, as, for the second time in two months, a federal judge ruled that President Donald Trump has the authority to name the acting director of the CFPB.

Back in November, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed by Trump, ruled in favor of the Trump administration, allowing Mulvaney to serve as CFPB acting director.

That ruling came as the result of a legal challenge by Leandra English, one of former CFPB Director Richard Cordray’s chief lieutenants.

Just before former Cordray stepped down in November, he promoted English from chief of staff to deputy director, which positioned her to take over as acting director upon Cordray’s departure.

But the Trump administration fought back against Cordray’s chosen line of succession and installed Mulvaney, who frequently criticized the agency while serving in Congress, as acting director.

That set off a legal battle over who was really in charge of the CFPB, but Kelly sided with Trump, handing control to Mulvaney until the Senate confirms a permanent CFPB director.

English fought back against the Kelly’s initial ruling, asking for a preliminary injunction that would have booted Mulvaney from Cordray’s old job and installed English.

But on Wednesday, Kelly denied English’s request for a preliminary injunction, which enables Mulvaney to maintain control of the CFPB.

“There is little question that there is a public interest in clarity here, but it is hard to see how granting English an injunction would bring about more of it,” Kelly wrote in his 46-page denial of English’s request. 

“The president has designated Mulvaney the CFPB’s acting director, the CFPB has recognized him as the acting director, and it is operating with him as the acting director,” Kelly continued. “Granting English an injunction would not bring about more clarity; it would only serve to muddy the waters. Therefore, the balance of the equities and the public interest weigh against the injunction.”

Kelly noted that that English has not “demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits or shown that she will suffer irreparable injury absent injunctive relief,” which he cites as another reason to deny English’s request.

In a statement posted to Twitter, English’s attorney, Deepak Gupta, said that they are “disappointed” by the judge’s decision.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision,” Gupta said. “The law is clear: President Trump may not circumvent the Senate confirmation process by installing his White House budget director to run the CFPB part time. Mr. Mulvaney’s appointment undermines the bureau’s independence and threatens its mission to protect American consumers.”

To read Kelly’s decision in full, click here (document courtesy of Zoe Tillman of Buzzfeed).

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