Trump touts TV's Kudlow for post

CNBC contributor among options to replace National Economic Council chief

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that economist and CNBC contributor 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 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.

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

Kudlow has 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 low-income 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 Vice President Mike Pence as a write-in candidate.

In another development, two people close to the White House said Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, was removed from his job Monday.

McEntee was escorted out Monday, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

One of a shrinking group of former campaign aides still working in the West Wing, the 27-year-old McEntee quickly rejoined the president's campaign. Trump's 2020 Republican campaign announced Tuesday that he will serve as a senior adviser for campaign operations.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on the reasons for his departure, saying only that McEntee was going to the campaign.

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In response to news reports about McEntee's exit, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to Chief of Staff John Kelly requesting all documents related to McEntee's employment and departure.

"I have been warning for more than a year about the White House's deficient background check process -- as well as specific officials who have been granted access to our nation's most closely guarded secrets despite derogatory information known to White House officials," Cummings wrote.

Trump announced Tuesday that he had ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, left recently amid internal debate over Trump's plans for tariffs. Communications director Hope Hicks also recently announced her departure.

Hicks, like McEntee, was part of a small group of aides who had been with Trump since his campaign.

Information for this article was contributed by Jennifer Jacobs and Toluse Olorunnipa of Bloomberg News; and by Catherine Lucey of The Associated Press.

A Section on 03/14/2018

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