WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request for a temporary restraining order to keep Mick Mulvaney from serving as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, handing a victory to President Donald Trump and opponents of the independent watchdog agency.
The ruling was issued by Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was nominated this year by Trump.
The dispute was precipitated by last week’s resignation of Richard Cordray, a Democrat who has been the agency’s only director since it was established in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Cordray announced Friday that he had appointed Leandra English as the agency’s deputy director, which made her the acting chief, but within hours Trump appointed Mulvaney, the White House budget chief, to fill the post.
English filed suit Sunday asking for the court order, saying she was the lawful acting director under a provision in the Dodd-Frank act that details succession when the director departs.
The Trump administration has argued that the Federal Vacancies Act of 1998 allowed Trump instead to appoint an official who already had been confirmed by the Senate in another capacity to serve as acting director.
Trump selected Mulvaney, who had been confirmed by the Senate for his job as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. He said he would serve in both roles until Trump nominated a permanent director and that person was confirmed by the Senate.
Mulvaney and English both asserted Monday that they were the bureau’s acting director.
Mulvaney occupied the director’s office and held a news conference at the CFPB on Monday afternoon announcing a 30-day freeze on hiring and new regulations. The agency’s website lists him as acting director.
English sent an email to the staff Monday that was signed “acting director” and went to Capitol Hill to meet with Democratic senators in that capacity. English said in a statement tweeted by her lawyer Tuesday that she planned on spending the day at bureau headquarters “taking calls and meeting with external stakeholders and bureau staff.”