With both potential Acting Directors showing up for work Monday morning and sending official conflicting emails out to CFPB staff, there has been understandable confusion.
But the agency's outgoing director has appointed a short-term successor.
Departing director Richard Cordray - an Obama appointee - has elevated an ally into the No. 2 spot at the bureau. It's been speculated that Cordray is seeking to run in the 2018 OH gubernatorial race.
"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, has been a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations pick".
"Together we have made a real and lasting difference that has improved people's lives", he said, remarking on his time at the agency, which is charged with overseeing consumer financial rights (specifically in terms of student loans, credit cards, mortgages, and banking institutions) and monitoring Wall Street, and was created following the 2008 financial crisis.
However, Trump's administration selected Mick Mulvaney to head the agency.
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The entire situation would be resolved should Trump nominate, and the Senate confirm, a permanent director. But Republicans opposed a potential Warren nomination to the post, and Obama named Cordray as the agency's first director when it launched in 2011. And he's cited the legislation creating the agency as saying the deputy would take over temporarily when the director left.
"That phrase could be interpreted to be about the director's health, rather than the director's retirement", the Post wrote.
Mulvaney said he was surprised at the unchecked powers afforded to the bureau - including his. "It's frightening to think about how little oversight Congress has over me now as I am the director". "Instead, Congress provided that the Bureau's Deputy Director...shall 'serve as acting Director in the absence or unavailability of the Director'". The White House responded forcefully by saying Mulvaney, now director of the Office of Management and Budget, would be the one in control until Trump decided on a permanent successor, whose confirmation could take months. Steven A. Engel, newly confirmed head of the office, wrote that, while the deputy director may serve as acting director under the statute, the president still has authority under the Vacancies Reform Act.
"The President's interpretation of the FVRA runs contrary to Dodd-Frank's later-enacted, more specific, and mandatory text", the lawsuit concludes. She also quotes from a 9th Circuit decision which says that "neither the FVRA nor the NLRA is the exclusive means of appointing an Acting General Counsel of the NLRB" - an observation that is irrelevant because the National Labor Relations Board is structured in an altogether different way from the CFPB - before getting to her real point: that she needn't "resolve the meaning" of the statutory language because a provision in an earlier version of the bill that was never signed into law somehow supports the administration's view.
With the future of the CFPB's leadership in doubt, both English and Mulvaney are expected to show up at the CFPB on Monday. With both Acting Directors asserting their own claim over the position, English over the weekend filed suit, seeking a temporary restraining order.
Mr Mulvaney, a sharp-tongued conservative former member congressman, sought to neutralise her power, dropping a warm introductory email to staff in favour of an urgent message ordering them to "disregard" any instructions from Ms English.