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The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is stepping down. Richard Cordray has led the federal agency since it was created seven years ago after the financial crisis. Its mission is to protect consumers from predatory or unfair practices by financial institutions, and now consumer advocates are worried about who President Trump will choose as the new director. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Democrats generally hail Richard Cordray as a hero of consumer protection. Under his leadership, the bureau went after mortgage lenders, Wall Street banks, payday loans. It took action against a big company that was cheating people who had student loans. And all told, the bureau put $12 billion back into the pockets of American consumers, and it created new rules for financial firms. Dennis Kelleher heads up Better Markets. It's a Wall Street watchdog group.
DENNIS KELLEHER: I think it is a sad day because Director Cordray really has done a terrific job.
ARNOLD: But Republicans in Congress almost uniformly have attacked Cordray. They've said he's too aggressive and holds too much power in his role as a cop keeping watch on Wall Street. Cordray withstood regular calls for his removal by Republicans, particularly the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling.
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JEB HENSARLING: Not only must Mr. Cordray go, but this current CFPB must go as well.
ARNOLD: That was back in April. Cordray responded, speaking on NPR back then.
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RICHARD CORDRAY: If you're going after large banks and large financial companies to try to make sure people are being treated fairly, you're going to make some enemies, and you're going to make people uncomfortable. But that's the job we're supposed to do. It's an important job for Americans.
ARNOLD: Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration recently overturned a CFPB rule. It would have stopped banks from avoiding class-action lawsuits. That has Kelleher concerned about what Republicans will do as Cordray leaves the bureau.
KELLEHER: We are very worried that this administration will appoint somebody who will actually undermine its mission to protect consumers.
ARNOLD: There's been speculation that Cordray might run for governor in Ohio, but he did not give a reason for stepping down. Chris Arnold, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.