Trump eyeing CNBC an­a­lyst for top role as eco­nomic ad­viser


WASH­ING­TON Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said on Tues­day that CNBC per­son­al­ity Larry Kud­low has “a very good chance” at re­plac­ing Gary Cohn, the out­go­ing di­rec­tor of the White House Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil.

“I’m look­ing at Larry Kud­low very strongly,” Trump told re­porters as he left the White House for a trip to Cal­i­for­nia. “He now has come around to be­liev­ing in tar­iffs.”

The pres­i­dent may name the 70-year-old Kud­low as his top eco­nomic ad­viser within a day or so, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said on Mon­day. Trump has spo­ken by phone with Kud­low about the eco­nomic ad­viser role a cou­ple of times in re­cent days, in­clud­ing once over the week­end, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion.

The peo­ple fa­mil­iar with Trump’s de­lib­er­a­tions cau­tioned that he hasn’t made a fi­nal de­ci­sion and could change his mind. Two other peo­ple de­scribed Kud­low as be­ing among those be­ing con­sid­ered as re­place­ments for Cohn. All of the peo­ple asked not to be iden­ti­fied dis­cussing the mat­ter.

Kud­low is al­ready an in­for­mal ad­viser who oc­ca­sion­ally speaks to the pres­i­dent, one of the peo­ple said. In ad­di­tion to his du­ties at CNBC, where he is a se­nior con­trib­u­tor, Kud­low is a ra­dio host, syn­di­cated colum­nist and en­tre­pre­neur. He was an econ­o­mist for Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. and served in pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Other peo­ple whose names have been men­tioned as part of the search in­clude White House trade ad­viser Peter Navarro, Deputy Di­rec­tor for Eco­nomic Pol­icy Shahira Knight, Bud­get Di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney and Stephen Moore, chief econ­o­mist at the con­ser­va­tive Her­itage Foun­da­tion.

Cohn an­nounced his de­par­ture last week af­ter Trump moved for­ward with steep tar­iffs on steel and alu­minum im­ports — a plan Cohn had vo­cif­er­ously op­posed.

The di­vide came to ahead in an Oval Of­fice meet­ing where Trump sought con­fir­ma­tion from his ad­vis­ers that he had their sup­port. Ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of the ex­change, the pres­i­dent asked Cohn di­rectly if he backed the de­ci­sion and Cohn de­clined to pledge his sup­port. An­other per­son fa­mil­iar with the meet­ing dis­puted that ac­count. Nev­er­the­less, hours later, Cohn was on the way out.

White House aides like Kud­low be­cause he’s viewed as team player who would sup­port the pres­i­dent’s vi­sion, and would ar­rive on the job with sub­stan­tial Wall Street cred­i­bil­ity.

Still, Kud­low has also clashed with Trump in the past. Ear­lier this month, he wrote a col­umn for CNBC de­scrib­ing the pres­i­dent’s tar­iffs as “a re­gres­sive tax on low­in­come fam­i­lies.”

“Trump should also ex­am­ine the his­tor­i­cal record on tar­iffs, be­cause they have al­most never worked as in­tended and al­most al­ways de­liver an un­happy end­ing,” Kud­low wrote in the March 3 col­umn, which also in­cluded praise for other parts of the pres­i­dent’s eco­nomic agenda. Kud­low has strongly backed the tax over­haul that Trump signed at the end of last year.

In 2016, when a tape sur­faced be­fore the elec­tion fea­tur­ing Trump boast­ing about grab­bing women’s gen­i­tals, Kud­low said he was “fu­ri­ous” and threat­ened to vote for Mike Pence as a write-in can­di­date.

Larry Kud­low

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