President’s Power to Oust Consumer Watchdog’s Chief Is Curbed by Court


The ruling, which can be appealed to the Supreme Court, stems from a lawsuit filed by the mortgage lender PHH Corporation challenging the scope of the bureau’s authority and a $109 million fine levied against the company. The appeals court left in place an earlier decision throwing out the fine.

In a statement, PHH called the ruling on Wednesday “an important and gratifying outcome.” A PHH spokesman, Dico Akseraylian, said the company had not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

The appeals court’s decision came too late to protect the suit’s initial target, Richard Cordray, who resigned in November. Mr. Cordray, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama, took an aggressive approach to regulation that made him unpopular with the financial industry.

Mr. Cordray’s departure allowed President Trump to install his own acting director at the agency, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director. Mr. Mulvaney has dropped some of his predecessor’s lawsuits and investigations, delayed new rules from taking effect and called for more “humility and prudence” at the bureau.

A spokesman for the bureau said, “We are analyzing the decision.”

Mr. Mulvaney’s appointment is also the subject of a continuing court battle that the Trump administration has prevailed in so far.

Mr. Cordray, who is now running for governor of Ohio, praised the appeals court’s ruling.

“Much more to be said, but today’s decision is all about maintaining independent law enforcement free from politics,” he wrote on Twitter.

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