By Patrick Rucker
WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) - With doughnuts in hand, President Donald Trump’s appointee to head the U.S. government consumer watchdog agency turned up for work on Monday, challenging the acting appointee of the outgoing Obama-era head in an unprecedented partisan showdown over how the U.S. financial system should be regulated.
Mick Mulvaney, who already serves as White House budget chief, was named acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by Trump last week. But Mulvaney, who tried to dismantle the agency when he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, faces a challenge from Leandra English, who was named temporary head of the agency by outgoing director Richard Cordray hours beforehand.
Both issued statements on Monday morning indicating they were in charge.
English sent an email in which she welcomed staff back from the Thanksgiving holiday and signed off as “acting director,” according to a source.
But Mulvaney stood his ground, writing in a staff email an hour later:
“Please disregard any instructions you receive from Ms. English in her presumed capacity as Acting Director,” he said in a memo seen by Reuters. “If you receive additional communications from her today ... please inform the General Counsel.”
Mulvaney also signed off as “acting director” and invited staff to pop by his office on the fourth floor to “grab a donut.”
The same source said that as Mulvaney was getting settled in, CFPB general counsel Mary McLeod sent a memo she had prepared on Sunday to the CFPB’s legal division agreeing with an opinion of the U.S. Justice Department that Trump had the power to appoint Mulvaney as temporary leader of the watchdog.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Additional reporting by Pete Schroeder; Writing by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Eric Meijer and Bill Trott)