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Trump Surrogate Suggests Consumer Protection Agency Head Should Be Ousted

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the chopping block? (Ted Eytan / flickr)(CC-BY-SA)
Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the chopping block? (Ted Eytan / flickr)(CC-BY-SA)

Next on the Trump administration’s list of targeted institutions may well be the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). According to a report by The Hill, former Trump campaign manager and current surrogate Corey Lewandowski on a Sunday telecast urged the president to “re-look at firing Richard Cordray, the [head of the] CFPB. He is a person who is all but running for governor in the state of Ohio and he’s sitting in federal office right now.”

When asked during the “Meet the Press” interview why he seemed so focused on having Cordray fired, and whether he had a client who might be invested in the outcome, the political operative insisted that he had no conflict of interest, stating, “No, no. I have no clients whatsoever.” However, as a Media Matters report points out, this may not be the case:

… [L]ater in the show, Politico reporter Eliana Johnson noted that Lewandowski “is appearing at a fundraiser August 3 for a Republican Ohio gubernatorial candidate, despite his claim that he has no business interests in this,” prompting [host Chuck] Todd to exclaim, “Now we know the motivation there.” BuzzFeed reported on July 25 that Lewandowski has been advertised as a “special guest” at the August 3 fundraiser for Rep. Jim Renacci. BuzzFeed also reported that Renacci helped Lewandowski land a speaking slot to the City Club of Cleveland, which will take place the same day as the fundraiser.

According to a Politico report, Cordray probably does intend to run for governor of Ohio, though he has not announced any decision to enter the race. In order to mount a campaign, he would have to leave his post at the consumer bureau before his term expires in July 2018. His departure would be a gift to Republicans, who have long been attempting to gut the bureau. Politico elaborates:

Under law, President Donald Trump can’t replace Cordray without firing him for cause, an act that carries its own political risk given the bureau’s popularity with the public — including among Trump voters. And Congress can’t rein in the agency with spending cuts because it’s funded through the Federal Reserve and not subject to appropriations.

As such, the CFPB, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has been a menace to political profiteers with close ties to Wall Street. It was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and shields consumers from some of the predatory lending practices that wreaked financial havoc a decade ago. Congressional Republicans and other opponents have argued that the agency represents yet another example of governmental overreach.

The Washington Post notes that Lewandowski isn’t the only GOP operative on the warpath when it comes to the CFPB:

Lewandowski is not the first Republican to call for Cordray’s ouster. Before Trump even took office, Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote a letter pressing the incoming administration to fire Cordray. The next month, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, similarly called for Cordray’s dismissal.

“Personnel is policy,” Hensarling said on Fox Business Network at the time. “So the president, I would urge him to immediately fire the head of the Orwellian-named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

The CFPB’s critics range beyond Republican ranks, but given the agency’s origin story and its actions, it’s clear why the current administration would want to do away with it. Whether the CFPB could survive a change in leadership — and whether it can survive the Trump presidency in general — remains to be seen.

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