The deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is asking a federal judge for an injunction to install her as the agency's acting chief in place of President Trump's appointee, Mick Mulvaney.
The Wednesday night legal filing by Leandra English is the latest in the legal battle for control of the bureau and comes after U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly denied her request last week for a temporary restraining order to remove Mulvaney.
Kelly did not rule on the merits of the case, which centers on a dispute over which statute governs the appointment of an acting director. English's attorney, Deepak Gupta, had said his client planned to file for an injunction, which, unlike the restraining order, could be appealed if not granted.
"Ms. English has a clear legal entitlement to the position of Acting Director of the CFPB," the filing said. She asked the court to declare her the lawful acting director and that any actions Mulvaney takes in the position "shall have no force or effect."
Kelly has set a hearing on the injunction for Dec. 22 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The dispute began on Nov. 24 when Richard Cordray, a Democrat, stepped down as bureau director. He promoted English, his chief of staff, to deputy director and said she would serve as acting director under a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that created the bureau.
Within hours of Cordray's resignation announcement, Trump appointed Mulvaney to fill the post under the Federal Vacancies Act of 1998. The administration said that law allowed Trump to appoint an official who already had been confirmed by the Senate in another capacity to also serve as the bureau's acting director.
Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, has moved into Cordray's office and acted quickly to put his stamp on the bureau despite protests from Democrats and consumer advocates. The bureau writes rules and enforces consumer protections against banks and other financial institutions.
A former Republican congressman and an outspoken bureau opponent, Mulvaney told reporters Monday that he expected to be in the job for five to seven months because a permanent director still must be nominated and then confirmed by the Senate.
English has been at the bureau's headquarters "from time to time" and also has been working from another bureau office a few blocks away, Mulvaney said.
He said he has no intention of firing English, but said he has not met with her and does not plan to because of the legal dispute. Mulvaney said he has emailed her, asking that she "please cease holding yourself out as acting director."
English has not responded to the emails, he said.