[John] Harwood: The Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial, said your agency is lawless. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who is an independent-minded senator, refers to you as King Richard. People say, "He's a dictator." What do you say?
Cordray: First of all, I think it's completely ill-founded. There's never specifics in those kinds of claims. But what I would say is, accountability is really at the heart of this agency. We're all about holding financial companies, large financial companies, accountable for complying with the law and treating people fairly.
Harwood: Do you not accept that you need to be accountable to someone in government who is elected by people?
Cordray: Sure. We are accountable. I have to be accountable to Congress; I have to testify in front of them four times a year. I'm accountable to the courts; they oversee what we do. And if we get something wrong, we fix it, just like everybody else does.
Harwood: Doesn't accountability mean that somebody in government above you can fire you or change your budget?
Cordray: Well, what they can do is replace you from time to time. That's the way the independent agencies work. Nobody's talking about firing Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve. Nobody's talking about firing other independent agency heads. That's the principle of our government.
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Harwood: Have you talked to anyone senior at the White House about talking to the president?
Cordray: I have not had a chance to talk to the president.
Harwood: People like Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, or Steve Bannon?
Cordray: Well, look. I have made it clear and I'll make it clear here to you that I'm quite happy to sit down and talk to anybody. Love to have the chance to talk to him about our work, hear whatever criticisms or other points of view they may have, and try to talk those through. I think we can reach a lot of common ground in terms of protecting consumers.
I wish Harwood had followed up on that because it would be interesting to know if the White House has been in touch with the Director.