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Trump Successfully (and Illegally) Taking Control of the CFPB Will be a Terminal Constitutional Event

This is another defining (if quiet) moment in our nation's history. The rule of law and the strength of our democratic institutions is all that stand between us and the dictatorship Trump so clearly wants.

Despite there being a clear and legal line of succession at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Trump administration has decided to fill a vacancy that does not actually exist in order to seize control of the agency:

Passed in 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act established the CFPB and called on the bureau’s deputy director to serve as acting director between Senate-confirmed chiefs. Cordray promoted English, his chief of staff, to the deputy director position shortly before resigning from the bureau on Friday. 

But Trump nominated Mulvaney to be the CFPB’s acting director soon afterward on Friday evening, claiming he had the power to do so under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. That law empowers the president to nominate any Senate-confirmed administration official as acting director of a department or agency.

English has asked the court to not only bar Mulvaney from the position, but declare that Dodd-Frank’s line of succession supersedes the vacancies act. English has also asked the court to ban Trump from appointing another acting director.

The key word here is "vacancy" and since according to Dodd-Frank, an actual federal law, there isn't one, Trump appointing Mulvaney or anyone else without Congressional approval is blatantly illegal. In fact, the law was designed specifically to prevent exactly the kind of abuse Trump is trying to commit:

“When we wrote the law creating the CFPB, and we deliberately tried to give it some protection from the normal political process,” Frank said on CNN's "New Day."

“In this case because we knew that fighting the large financial interests on behalf of consumers was going to put you in the battlefield everyday, so we did do deliberately special protections,” Frank said Monday. “We gave the director of this agency a five-year term, removable by the president only for cause.”

But Trump and his cronies are trying it anyway because they know Republicans will go along with it. If Trump's already pilfered Supreme Court gives it a rubber stamp as well, that's a game changer and a dangerous one. After that, what law can't they ignore? What rule can't they break? 

Trump is already trying to make the Department of Justice his own personal police force. Who's going to stop him when he turns his attentions to the NSA and the CIA, purging anyone not loyal to him personally and directing them to attack his enemies? What happens when he signs an executive order making it harder for people to vote? It benefits Republicans and the Supreme Court will have already fatally compromised itself so why make a fuss now? In for a penny, in for a pound. Or an authoritarian ton. This is how Putin took control of Russia and if you don't think he's whispering suggestions into Trump's eager ear, you're hopelessly blind.

After 8 years of screaming about the "lawless" Obama administration, spineless Republicans are more than happy to let Trump and his gang of thieves loot the country on a daily basis as long as they more or less does what the GOP wants. But the longer Trump is allowed to ignore the rule of the law and weaken the institutions designed to enforce the checks and balances that maintain our democracy, the closer we come to a fatal tipping point. 

Once we go over that edge, we cease to become a democracy and become the most powerful nation in the world run according to the personal whims of whoever inevitably deposes the Mad King. What could possibly go wrong?

Most people haven't even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but it may go down in history as the last timid step on the slippery slope to autocracy before America went into a free fall.

There are 343 days left to the 2018 elections.

- This article kills fascists

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