While some CFPB-haters have been busy attempting to construct arguments that the president would have "cause" to fire Richard Crodray as Director of the CFPB, arguments that, thus far, appear to unable to pass the laugh test, former US assistant attorney general Thomas M. Boyd thinks (paid subscription required) that there's a much easier, and less legally vulnerable, method to arrange for the dethroning of King Richie of the Recess: have the president order Cordray to drop the CFPB's appeal of the decision of the federal district court that "reformed" the provision of Franken-Dodd that permitted the president to fire the director only "for cause" in order to now to permit the president to fire the director "at will." According to Boyd, that will put Director Cordray in a lose-lose position.
The Constitution vests all executive authority in the president. There is no fourth branch of government to house truly “independent” agencies. If the president were to instruct Mr. Cordray to abandon his appeal, that order would seem to be perfectly appropriate—and constitutional. Moreover, the Dodd-Frank Act specifically requires that the CFPB coordinate with the Justice Department on litigation. The bureau must also seek the attorney general’s consent before representing itself before the Supreme Court.
Ordering Mr. Cordray to drop the appeal would put him in a quandary. If he complies, the opinion from last fall becomes law, and he may be fired “at will.” If he refuses, then he may be fired for directly challenging a presidential order.
The separation of powers demands that the CFPB be subordinate to the president. It's difficult to imagine the Supreme Court--or even the D.C. Circuit--ruling otherwise."
It sounds like a plan, but after seeing how federal courts in "progressive" areas of the country recently have second-guessed what many considered to be decisions within the primary discretion of the executive branch, I, personally, do not have difficulty seeing how the D.C. Court might rule otherwise and how, unless Neil Gorsuch makes it to the US Supreme Court more quickly than at the snail's pace the Democrats in the Senate have threatened to impose, the SCOTUS might split 4-4 and leave a lower court ruling against the president in place. The three branches of Congress seem to be taking turns in overreaching, so nothing is out of the question to me.
I also suspect that, given the headwinds buffeting his latest executive orders, President Trump might want to focus on other, more pressing, matters than the cooking of Cordray's goose. Of course, if the Cordray-led CFPB starts firing out enforcement actions at a pace akin to Obama's late-game pardons and commutations, or if President Trump simply wakes up in that kind of mood one morning, the Tweeter-in-Chief might suddenly decide to focus his seemingly limitless supply of ire on Mr. Cordray. Moreover, now that Jeff Sessions has withstood the last-ditch rants of The Massachusetts Hot Mess, he may decide to mosey down his own garden path to the land of Richie and see how many ways he can foul up the CFPB's appeal of the PHH decision and otherwise hasten Cordray's return to the Buckeye State.