Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and squatter in the director's chair at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has really been feeling his oats since he's gotten all the jobs in the Trump administration. That includes winning a showdown with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in which Mulvaney elbowed his way into writing the regulations to go with the Republican tax cut law. Mulvaney has been on a total power grab, and feels like he's king of the hill now, as his testimony Thursday in an oversight hearing for the CFPB attests.
"While I have to be here by statute, I don't think I have to answer your questions," Mulvaney told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. "If you take a look at the actual statute that requires me to be here, it says that I 'shall appear' before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs of the Senate. And I'm here and I'm happy to do it."
He was clearly not happy about doing it and he was a dick throughout. So it was quite satisfying to watch Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts dish it out. (Watch video of the exchange below the fold.)
"Here's what you don't get, Mr. Mulvaney—this isn't about me," she said. "You're hurting real people to score cheap political points."
Warren pointed to a scammed soldier's father sitting in the audience at the hearing. If Mulvaney had "gotten what [he] wanted" and eliminated the bureau — as he voted repeatedly to do while a member of the House — the man's son would still be getting exploited, she said.
She then ticked through successful CFPB cases one by one, asking Mulvaney each time where the money the bureau had recouped would be today if the agency didn't exist. She swatted away his attempts to say other regulators with jurisdiction might have brought the same action.
"Oh I see, they could have brought the actions — that's the same agencies that didn't bring those actions before the crash of 2008 and that didn't bring this particular case," Warren said of a CFPB case against Citigroup.
"Let's not kid ourselves — let's not pretend like you hope that some other agency would do that work, Mr. Mulvaney," Warren added. "I have a list of 11 bills that you supported during your time in Congress that would have made it harder for states and other federal agencies to protect consumers and to hold cheaters accountable."
Mulvaney might just get taken down a few more pegs by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which heard arguments Thursday about his squatting in this office.
Two of the three "indicated they had a problem with […] Mulvaney, because he also heads the White House Office of Management and Budget. The 2010 law that created the bureau as an independent federal agency specifically said OMB should not have oversight or jurisdiction over it." If they rule against Mulvaney, that would force his removal from the CFPB.
The judges, however, seemed reluctant to go as far as ruling for Leandra English, the deputy director that outgoing former director Richard Corday named as the acting chief when he left office. All three "seemed as if they did not want to take the rare step of telling a president how to fulfill his constitutional duties to appoint executive branch officials." But they could say it can't be Mulvaney, in which case Trump would have to find someone else. As of now, Trump has shown absolutely no indication that he's considering finding a full-time, permanent replacement.