Ex-CFPB Director Richard Cordray: You Can Say Consumer Protection Hurts Business, But It Helps Consumers


Richard Cordray, who stepped down from the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau position on Friday, joins CNN to talk about how the power struggle for his old job will play out.

About the leadership battle, Cordray said: "I think it is clear in the law, which says that the director of the agency, and that was me as of Friday, has the right and the duty to appoint a deputy director, and I did, and that is Leandra English, and then it says that the deputy director shall serve as acting director when the director is unavailable as for example through a vacancy that happened when I resigned (Friday night at midnight). So I believe Leandra English is the acting director. The Trump administration has a different view. They're citing a different statute. At best these two statues are in conflict with one another, so it is in front of a court. The court took it home overnight to think about it further... and that is where it will be hashed out."

"This is set up to be, by design, and independent federal agency-- very similar to the Federal Reserve, in fact, it is in the governmental organization chart as part of the Federal Reserve. If Janet Yellen resigned, the notion that Donald Trump would be able to appoint somebody that he controls to manage monetary policy at the Federal Reserve, I think people would find very strange... This is an interim situation here, not a permanent situation. During that period, the independence of the agency should be preserved," he continued.

"We don't know exactly what the outcome of this is going to be," the former director added. "Until a judge decides this... But I'll say this: That is where it should be decided... it shouldn't be decided by tweets, insults, and name-calling. There are parts of Washington that like to deal with issues this way. That is not my way of dealing with issues, I try to deal with issues on the merits, and make sure the law is followed."

"As to whether it 'devastated' the banks, like the president said in his weekend Tweet - the banks made record profits last year," Cordray said. "$171 billion. They're on track to make even bigger profits this year. The banks are doing just fine. The question is, is somebody going to be looking over their shoulder to make sure they're doing things the right way, that they serve their customers within the bounds of the law. That they don't cut corners or take a little advantage here and there. You do that across a million customers and that is real money. That is part of what is an issue with this agency."

"The president says regulation hurts business, and that is part of his mandate, to get rid of regulations, what do you want the audience to know about your concerns about what happens if the CFPB is weakened?" the CNN host asked.

"This is part of what I argued to the president in my resignation letter," Cordray explained. "In consumer protection, you can say it hurts business, that is it makes them comply with the law (that is what we want them to do). But it helps consumers. Consumers drive two-thirds of the economic activity in our economy, it makes up two-thirds of consumer demand. If consumers are strong, protected, can trust the marketplace and feel confident that they are not being cheated here and there, then consumers can drive this economy forward, and that is exactly what they are doing."

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