Time for Cordray to go at CFPB? Easier said than done

There’s been plenty of “resource actions” (a nicer term for being fired) in the executive branch these days, with most of the attention being paid to the rather abrupt exit of Reince Priebus. But perhaps we’re looking at the wrong candidates when considering dismissals. That seems to be the opinion of Corey Lewandowski (yes, he’s still around), who is urging the President and his new Chief of Staff to look at the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and replace Richard Cordray. The Obama era holdover isn’t just a Democrat, but one who is now all but officially running for Governor in Ohio. Unfortunately for Corey, getting rid of Cordray is a lot more complicated than simply writing up a pink slip. (The Hill)

Corey Lewandowski on Sunday used the recent White House personnel shake-up as an opportunity to push for incoming Chief of Staff John Kelly to fire an Obama-era appointee who oversees the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

“I think the general should re-look at firing Richard Cordray, the CFPB, he is a person who is now all but running for governor in the state of Ohio and he’s sitting in federal office right now,” the former Trump campaign manager said on NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.”

“I think this general as chief of staff, is going to come in and put a fresh set of eyes on the inner-workings of the White House and making sure the president’s agenda moves,” said Lewandowski, who serves as an outside adviser to President Trump.

The CFPB isn’t technically a cabinet level department, but rather an “independent” agency, falling under the umbrella of the Fed, with a vaguely defined connection to the Treasury Department. Given the impact that it can have on policy as it pertains to things like credit card regulation, student loans, investment capital and a host of other concerns, it’s not a minor position. The agency also recently enacted rules regarding how customers can engage with and bring lawsuits against banks which will lead to mountains of litigation and has seen serious opposition in the House.

You can understand how, after more than six months of an administration, some people are wondering how Cordray is still in charge over there. He’s an Obama ally and a hot prospect for the Democratic Party who, as I mentioned above, is most likely about to start running for Governor of Ohio. That will give him all the more reason (and opportunity) to cast stones at the President even while working inside of his administration. Beyond that, his personal goals in terms of the responsibilities of the CFPB (assuming you believe that agency should have ever been created in the first place) are sharply out of step with conservative priorities.

But can Trump actually just fire Cordray? While the provisions are being challenged in court, the charter for the CFPB as set up by the Dodd-Frank Act says that it’s an independent agency and the President can’t remove him without cause. And determining “cause” can be a tricky battle, allowing for an appeal and a messy fight. Not that Trump has shown any aversion to high profile domestic disputes inside his administration, but he also no doubt wants to know that he can win before entering the arena.

Getting rid of Cordray (and the entire bureau while we’re at it) is a sound idea on paper, but it’s going to be a significant hill to climb. Don’t be surprised if the President leaves this one on the back burner for the time being.