The White House and the Treasury Department have spent the last week offering denials of an anonymously sourced Huffington Post report that said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner opposes nominating Elizabeth Warren to the head the newly-created Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
On Thursday morning, Geithner himself went even further, repeatedly praising Warren in a breakfast meeting with journalists. “She is, I think, one of the most effective advocates for reform in the country,” Geithner said at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “I think she would be a very strong leader of this organization.”
Geithner added that he has not yet made a recommendation to President Obama about the position. And the Treasury Secretary also had words of praise for Eugene Kimmelman, a Justice Department attorney, and Michael Barr, a Treasury Department official who worked on the financial reform bill. “They are two very well qualified, excellent candidates as well,” Geithner said. Kimmelman, Barr and Warren have been placed on a White House shortlist as possible heads of the bureau, though that list may expand in the coming weeks.
In a piece that will run in the upcoming newsstand/iPad issue of TIME, I quote someone familiar with the ongoing discussions between Warren and the Obama Administration about the new bureau. In private discussions, Warren has emphasized picking a leader who will be able to attract the talent needed to staff the new agency. “If you appoint a milquetoast first director, it’s hard to get the agency on the right foot,” said this person.
The White House, meanwhile, is pushing back against the suggestion by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a principle author of the bill, who suggested in a radio interview this week that Warren might not be able to win Senate confirmation. “We are confident she is confirmable,” says White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage, a sentiment that was echoed on Wednesday by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in his daily briefing.