The comic-opera overtones of the Trump administration often mask serious constitutional questions with big implications for American business. Take, for instance, the battle for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
After more than two years without a Deputy Director, on Nov. 24, CFPB Director Richard Cordray named Leandra English to the post—and then promptly resigned, making English the Acting Director under Cordray’s reading of the statute that established the CFPB.
President Trump disagreed and on Nov. 25 he appointed the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, as Acting Director under a different statute. Mulvaney’s communications director seemed to cement the transition, as well as its farcical nature, by tweeting a photo of empty boxes of donuts that Mulvaney brought to calm the troops on his first day in office.
A federal court will ultimately decide who wins this fight. But the larger question won’t go away: Can Congress really establish “independent” agencies that are accountable only to their own leaders? And given the radical swings in direction at many federal agencies after recent presidential elections, can any of them really be considered independent?
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