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White House: 'Mulvaney has taken charge' of consumer agency

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has “taken charge” of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday, despite competing claims to the bureau’s top job.

“Director Mulvaney has taken charge of that agency and he has the full cooperation of the staff and appeared there this morning and things went very well,” Sanders said at the White House press briefing.

Sanders’ remarks come after President Donald Trump sparked confusion over the weekend by tapping Mulvaney to replace outgoing CFPB Director Richard Cordray after the agency chief had established his deputy, Leandra English, as his successor.

English and Mulvaney issued dueling memos on Monday, with both claiming the agency’s top role in emails sent to staff.

The political showdown has set up a legal clash over the custodianship of the bureau.

On Monday, however, Sanders cast the matter as being “clearly” settled by law.

“I think that the legal outline shows very clearly who is in charge of that agency,” she said.

Sanders also decried what she characterized as the politicization of the agency, criticizing its management under Cordray and the Obama administration.

“We’re not going to put political ambitions as our No. 1 priority,” she said. “We’re going to make sure that the consumers are actually being protected, which is what the agency was created for.”

English sued the Trump administration over the move on Sunday, requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent Mulvaney’s assuming the post. Mary McLeod, a lawyer for the CFPB, sided with a Justice Department opinion over the weekend.

“It is my legal opinion that the president possesses the authority to designate an acting director for the bureau,” McLeod wrote in the memo. “I advise all bureau personnel to act consistently with the understanding that Director Mulvaney is the acting director of the CFPB.”

Sanders cited McLeod’s memo in asserting Mulvaney’s right to lead the bureau. “Everybody is in full agreement,” she added.

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