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Lewandowski calls for Trump to fire head of consumer financial watchdog agency

Corey Lewandowski. (John Minchillo/AP)
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Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign manager for Donald Trump, urged the White House on Sunday to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over his rumored political ambitions.

Asked on NBC's “Meet the Press” about the transfer of John Kelly, a retired Marine general, from leading the Department of Homeland Security to running the West Wing as White House chief of staff, Lewandowski injected an unprompted call for the dismissal of Richard Cordray from his post atop the CFPB, a federal agency tasked with protecting consumers from bad actors in the financial sector.

“The general should re-look at firing Richard Cordray,” Lewandowski said. “He is a person who is now all but running for governor in the state of Ohio, and he’s sitting in a federal office right now.”

The call for Cordray's firing seems to stem from a comment by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill, who said that he heard from a friend that Cordray would run for governor in 2018, when Republican John Kasich's term expires.

Lewandowski added that if Cordray, a Democrat, “wants to go run for the governor of Ohio, go do it.”

Lewandowski is not the first Republican to call for Cordray's ouster. Before Trump even took office, Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote a letter pressing the incoming administration to fire Cordray. The next month, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, similarly called for Cordray's dismissal.

“Personnel is policy,” Hensarling said on Fox Business Network at the time. “So the president, I would urge him to immediately fire the head of the Orwellian-named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Since its creation in 2011 in the wake of the bursting of the housing bubble, the agency, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), has become an object of ire for many Republicans in Congress, who argue that it is yet another unnecessary regulator entrenched in the federal government.

For his part, Cordray said in January that the arrival of the new president “shouldn’t change the job at all” at the independent watchdog agency. Indeed, Cordray has kept busy since Trump's election. Just this month, the CFPB finalized a rule making it easier for consumers to challenge financial companies in court.

Chuck Todd, host of “Meet the Press,” appeared surprised at Lewandowski bringing up Cordray when asked about Kelly.

“That was sort of a random thing you just introduced there,” Todd said. He asked whether Lewandowski, who co-founded a lobbying firm after Trump's election that he has since left, had any business interests or clients who had asked him to call for Cordray's removal on television.

“No, no,” Lewandowski responded. “I have no clients whatsoever.”