Dallas Morning News: Dallas lawmaker wants Trump to say 'You're fired' to consumer financial protection bureau head
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jeb Hensarling wants President Donald Trump to direct his signature catchphrase at Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: “You’re fired.”
The Dallas Republican revived his long-running feud with Cordray in a combative hearing he chaired Tuesday in the House financial services committee, kicking off a series of barbs from GOP critics of the agency.
“For conducting unlawful activities, abusing his authority and denying market participants due process, Richard Cordray should be dismissed by our President,” Hensarling said. Hensarling did not stop at Cordray, adding that the entire agency should be eliminated, too.
“American consumers need competitive markets and a ‘cop on the beat’ to protect them from fraud and deception,” Hensarling said. “They don’t need Washington elites trampling on their freedom of choice and picking their financial products for them.”
Congressional Republicans have long argued that the bureau, formed in 2010 with the backing of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has dramatically overreached from the agency’s mandate and hurts small businesses — or, as Hensarling calls it, “tyranny.”
Democrats, in turn, point to the more than $12 billion that the bureau has returned to more than 29 million American consumers due to fraudulent financial deals.
The agency’s structure was ruled unconstitutional in October, but the case is currently under a temporary stay as an appeals court granted a request for a rehearing in February.
Hensarling focused his questioning of Cordray on a series of allegations in National Review article written by Ronald Rubin, who formerly served both as an adviser for Hensarling and before that as an enforcement attorney at the consumer protection bureau under Cordray.
Among the claims was that Cordray had ignored complaints from its inspector general about supervising attorneys obstructing congressional oversight. Cordray described the article as “based on opinion and hearsay” to which Hensarling threatened to subpoena him for more information.
Rep. Maxine Waters, the committee’s senior Democrat from California, told Cordray to ignore the National Review article and pledged her continued support to him under fire from Republican critics.
"I will be with you forever,” Waters said. "I would hope this president, though I doubt it, has the wisdom to keep you on."
Former Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Lubbock Republican, was reportedly under consideration to replace Cordray at the agency after meeting with Trump in January. But Trump has yet to wield his executive power over the bureau, despite the pleas of Hensarling and other Republicans, which some industry watchers speculate is because Trump wants to wait to see how court cases play out.
Following his own remarks, Hensarling had to keep the unruly proceedings in order. Several irate Republicans pushed the outer limits of their questioning time in grilling Cordray, and Democrats responded in kind with impassioned tributes to the agency.
At one point, Hensarling had to slam his gavel to stop Republicans from laughing after Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., commended Cordray for sounding the alarm on the Wells Fargo scandal. Republicans have argued that the agency was late to the issue, stepping in after a Los Angeles Times investigation had already uncovered the core of the problem.
When Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., gave Cordray a binder that included documents showing that the agency had not contacted Wells Fargo until days after the Los Angeles city attorney had already filed a civil complaint against the bank, Cordray refused to even open it.
Cordray insisted the agency had conducted "supervisory activity" over Wells Fargo before contacting the bank, but he said he did not know if they had exchanged any correspondence before that time.
After Wagner grilled Cordray for several more minutes, Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., appeared bewildered by his colleagues’ hostility.
“Mr. Cordray, boy, they really hate you, don’t they?” Capuano said.
“They don’t want to give us any credit for anything good that we do, I understand that,” Cordray replied. “That’s part of the game.”