How a Washington Bureaucrat Tricked President Trump

Weekly Standard | 10/12/2017 | Staff
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For several months, the worst-kept secret in Washington has been that Richard Cordray, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s first director, will resign and enter the 2018 Ohio governor’s race. The best-kept secret may be that Cordray decided not to resign the day Donald Trump was elected, and pulled off a spectacular political hoax with some unintentional help from the president’s advisers.

Cordray did hope to run to replace term-limited Ohio governor John Kasich when it appeared that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election and Democrats would retain control of the agency they created through the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. But for seven years, the CFPB’s unique structure—an independent agency whose single director the president can fire only for cause, and whose funding through Federal Reserve Bank profits circumvents the congressional appropriation process—has allowed the bureau to reject Republican job applicants, operate in secrecy, and stonewall congressional oversight. When Clinton lost, Cordray knew his Republican successor would uncover the politically devastating truth about the CFPB.

Glimpse - Director - Dilemma - Report - CFPB

A glimpse at the director’s dilemma can be seen in a recent congressional report on the CFPB’s failure to investigate the Wells Fargo fraud, Cordray’s disingenuous testimony during the ensuing congressional hearings, and the bureau’s refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas for related documents. If the director resigns, the powerful CFPB publicity machine that obscures such damaging facts will no longer protect him.

Cordray did not immediately abandon his Ohio campaign plans after the 2016 election because they were still his best political option if, as expected, Trump fired him. A month earlier, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had found the CFPB’s structure unconstitutional and allowed the president to remove the director at will. On Nov. 18, 2016, the CFPB petitioned the full court to vacate the panel’s decision and rehear the case,...
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