Republicans Want To Drain the Swamp of Anyone Who Holds Wall Street Accountable

During the campaign, Donald Trump was very clear about the fact that he wanted to repeal Dodd-Frank – the legislation that provided Wall Street reforms after the Great Recession. His transition team has suggested that he plans to follow through on that promise. But in the rush to repeal Obamacare and provide tax cuts for the wealthy, that one hasn’t risen to the top of the priority list yet.

We also know that more than anything contained in that legislation, the Republicans are most intent on getting rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In it’s five years of existence, this is the institution that has overseen the enactment of stricter lending requirements in mortgage markets, created a rule to reduce the exploitation payday lenders, and brokered $11 billion in relief payments for 27 million consumers. Most recently the CFPB was responsible for uncovering the fact that Wells Fargo employees illegally opened millions of unauthorized accounts for their customers in order to meet aggressive sales goals.

That is apparently why Yuka Hayashi reports that there is an effort underway to pressure Trump into firing the head of the CFPB, Richard Cordray.

A battle is intensifying over the future of Richard Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as Republicans search for any past transgressions that would allow President-elect Donald Trump to fire him.

Mr. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, is admired by consumer groups and disliked by many GOP lawmakers and financial-industry players for helping build the five-year-old agency into an aggressive financial regulator.

Republicans want Mr. Cordray ousted and replaced with someone who reflects their views. But the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law that created the CFPB states that the president may only remove its director for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.”

Apparently Cordray’s term isn’t over until July 2018 and it could take at least that long to move legislation to end Dodd-Frank. So Republicans have gone in search of some example of “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office” on the part of the CFPB director. You’re going to have to provide some special protection for your irony meter in order to process one of the things they’re considering.

One of the issues Mr. Cordray’s opponents are focusing on: past allegations of pay discrimination against women and minority employees at the CFPB and his alleged failure to take appropriate action.

Yes. You read that right. Republicans expect us to believe that suddenly they are outraged at the possibility of pay discrimination against women and minority employees.

But they are also looking at other options – like the cost of renovation to the CFPB headquarters and the bureau’s handling of alleged racial discrimination in auto lending. One of the people heading up this witch hunt investigation is Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R., Texas), who is a potential candidate for the job if they can figure out how to get rid of Cordray. In those efforts, they could get an assist from the courts.

Meanwhile, some point to a court case on the constitutionality of the bureau’s single-director structure, saying it makes sense to wait for resolution of that case, which is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Apparently the line Trump used about draining the swamp refers to getting rid of anyone who works to hold Wall Street accountable. Who knew?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.