In November, we witnessed a gladiator-like battle at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Former CFPB director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee, resigned and had given the reins to deputy director Leandra English on his way out. President Trump, however, ignored Cordray's appointment and instead announced that Office of Management and Budget Director Mulvaney was his guy.
What transpired was a controversial (but sort of hilarious) battle for power. Both Mulvaney and English tried to convince agency employees they were in charge. English emailed staff with directives, while Mulvaney showed up with an armful of donuts and an urgent memo.
“Please disregard any instructions you receive from Ms. English in her presumed capacity as Acting Director,” Mulvaney wrote.
English sought a restraining order to block Mulvaney from assuming the title, citing the Dodd Frank Act, which listed its own rules for succession.
U.S. District Court judge Judge Timothy Kelly sided with Trump, noting that the Federal Vacancies Act, which grants presidents authority to temporarily fill vacant executive agency positions, is a stronger argument than Dodd Frank.
Kelly came to the same conclusion Wednesday, denying English's request for a preliminary injunction. English failed to prove that she was “likely to succeed on the merits,” "likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,” that the “balance of equities” tips in her favor, and that an injunction would be “in the public interest.”
"English has not met the exacting standard," the judge writes.
Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government, commended Kelly on his decision.
“Now that Judge Kelly has ruled twice that President Trump is the only person allowed to name the new head of CFPB, it is time for the President’s political opponents to stop their legal shenanigans," Manning said in a statement. "Acting Director Mulvaney has been working hard to restore the credibility of this once rogue and politically partisan agency and this work must continue without further obstruction.”