U.S. consumer watchdog official takes leadership fight to appeals court

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An official who hopes to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday took her fight to a U.S. appeals court, urging it to oust President Donald Trump’s pick for the agency.

Leandra English is the deputy director of the CFPB and argues that Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director and pick to temporarily lead the consumer watchdog, was wrongly installed.

A federal court this week rejected English’s argument, leading her to file a further challenge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

English has so far lost two arguments in federal court, both to the same judge. On Friday, her lawyer asked the appeals court for expedited hearings in a fight that could end in the Supreme Court.

“There is an urgent public need for clarity,” wrote Deepak Gupta, English’s attorney, in the filing. “Until the full judicial process has run its course, the Bureau’s employees, the companies it regulates, and millions of American consumers will continue to suffer under a cloud of disruptive legal uncertainty.”

The CFPB was conceived to protect borrowers from abuse, but has become a partisan lightning-rod as Democrats see it as a critical watchdog while Republicans see an excessively powerful bureaucracy.

English was endorsed by former CFPB Director Richard Cordray, an appointee of President Barack Obama, before he stepped down in November. Trump named Mulvaney on the same day, setting off a legal feud that has been in the courts for weeks.

In the meantime, Mulvaney has made his mark at the agency, ordering a freeze on all new rules and other activity while he reviews agency policies.

Mulvaney, who also serves as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, is meant to only lead the agency on an interim basis. A permanent replacement to Cordray would have to be nominated by the President and endorsed by the Senate.

Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Susan Thomas

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