Exterior of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Washington, DC USA
Ted Eytan/Flickr

A battle for power has erupted in Washington over the control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a major consumer fraud protection agency, after its director resigned Friday.

After Richard Cordray, who led the agency since 2012, resigned last week, two separate parties took action to fill the post. First, Cordray named Leandra English, then his chief of staff, as deputy director, which according to him and The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, establishes her as the bureau's acting director.

However, President Donald Trump attempted to seize control of the embattled bureau by appointing the incumbent director of the Office of Management and Budget and outspoken critic of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, as acting director.

Mulvaney showed up for work on Monday amid the bubbling conflict and, according to Reuters, ordered CFPB employees to ignore all directives from Deputy Director English and to report them to the agency's legal department.

He also appeared to have brought donuts:

A day earlier, English sued Trump in an attempt to block Mulvaney from taking over as acting CFPB director. English argues that the president's appointment of Mulvaney violates Dodd-Frank, which “mandates that the Deputy Director shall ... serve as the acting Director in the absence or unavailability of the Director.”

On Sunday night, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a longtime critic of the bureau, called English's lawsuit “just the latest lawless action” by the agency.

Trump naming Mulvaney to head the CFPB falls in line with past appointments he's made of individuals to agencies they previously criticized. Mulvaney has slammed the CFPB, which was created in part by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in reaction to the to the financial crisis of 2007–08, as a “sick, sad joke.”

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