US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was looking “very strongly” at conservative commentator and economic analyst Larry Kudlow as a potential successor to outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn.
“I’m looking at Larry Kudlow very strongly. I’ve known him a long time,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “I think Larry has a very good chance.”
Kudlow, who is Jewish, is CNBC’s Senior Contributor and was previously the host of CNBC’s prime-time “The Kudlow Report.”
The president said that while he and Kudlow “don’t agree on everything,” that might be helpful to his administration. Trump did note Kudlow supported his approach to using trade tariffs in economic negotiations.
Trump recently slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a decision that drew criticism on Wall Street, and from top Republicans, and led to Cohn’s resignation.
Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, was the leading internal opponent to Trump’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, working to orchestrate an eleventh-hour effort in recent weeks to get Trump to reverse course. But Trump resisted those efforts, and reiterated in recent days that he would be imposing tariffs in the near future.
Cohn, who is also Jewish, is a former Goldman Sachs executive who joined the White House after departing the Wall Street firm with a $285 million payout. He played a pivotal role in helping Trump enact a sweeping tax overhaul, coordinating with members of Congress.
His resignation is a blow to Capitol Hill Republicans and business groups who were hoping Trump might listen to their worries on tariffs — and that Cohn would serve as a moderating force as the administration pushes a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Cohn’s departure comes amid a period of unparalleled tumult in the Trump administration, and aides worry that more staffers may soon head for the doors.
Turnover after just over a year in office is nothing new, but the Trump administration has churned through staff at a dizzying pace since taking office last January, and allies are worried the situation could descend into a free-fall.
Making matters worse, the list of prospects to replace departing aides grows shorter as the sense of turmoil increases. Vacancies abound throughout the West Wing and the administration at large, from critical roles like staff secretary to more junior positions in the press office.
Trump’s praise for Kudlow came hours after he fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him.
A senior White House official said the president wanted to reshuffle his team with a view to launching talks with North Korea, following last week’s spectacular announcement of a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Trump on Tuesday had scant words of praise for Tillerson, who had long been rumored to be about to be pushed out.
“A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,” Trump said, thanking Tillerson “for his service.”
The outgoing secretary of state, who returned before dawn from a trip to Africa earlier on Tuesday, did not speak to the president before his sacking was announced and was unaware of the reason for his sudden downfall, according to a top aide.