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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray. Photo: Brennan Linsley / AP

Richard Cordray, the Obama-appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), said in an email to employees Wednesday that he will step down at the end of the month. The move comes amid speculation that he plans to run on the Democratic ticket for governor of Ohio.

Why it matters: Congressional Republicans have targeted Cordray since he took over the bureau. Now President Trump will have the freedom to appoint a conservative director to take his spot.

He may even choose to dissolve the bureau entirely, which was formed as part of the Dodd-Frank reforms in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

Excerpts from his email to employees:

"Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to share with each of you directly what I have told the senior leadership in the past few days, which is that I expect to step down form my position here before the end of the month.

As I have said many times, but feel just as much today as I ever have, it has been a joy of my life to have the opportunity to serve our country as the first director of the Consumer Bureau by working alongside all of you here. Together we have made a real and lasting difference that has improved people's lives …

At the same time, there is always more work that lies ahead. That would be true at any point, of course, and one thing I have tried to reinforce this year is that the Consumer Bureau is far more than its director … And I trust that new leadership will see that value also and work to preserve it – perhaps in different ways than before, but desiring, as I have done, to serve in ways that benefit and strengthen our economy and our country."

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.