By Kevin Daley
The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) released an opinion last month identifying President Donald Trump’s legal authority to name an interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), after the Obama-era director designated his own successor when he resigned.
Former director Richard Cordray’s resignation set off a major conflict over the agency’s power, long a source of Republican frustration. The CFPB is the brain child of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
The Office of Legal Counsel, a division of DOJ which advises the president and other executive branch officers on the scope of executive power, produced an opinion advising that Trump has power to designate an acting director under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), even though the law that chartered the CFPB contains a succession provision allowing the agency’s deputy director to assume the directorship if the post is vacant.
“As we have advised in our prior opinions, even when the Vacancies Reform Act is not the ‘exclusive’ means for filling a vacancy, the statute remains an available option, and the president may rely upon it in designating an acting official in a manner that differs from the order of succession otherwise provided by an office-specific statute,” OLC’s memo reads.
The memo explains that the CFPB’s charter law does not displace the president’s authority under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, because Congress has never said that the FVRA is supplanted when an agency has its own statutory succession procedure.
OLC opinions are treated as binding rules within the executive branch.
The White House announced Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will simultaneously serve as acting CFPB director until the president names a permanent successor.
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