Trump's new top economic adviser hates tariffs

Larry Kudlow, President Trump's pick to run the National Economic Council, has been vocal in his criticism of the President's tariffs.

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 6:11 AM
Updated: Mar 16, 2018 6:14 AM

President Donald Trump will name Larry Kudlow, the conservative media analyst who served as his informal economic adviser during the 2016 campaign, the next head of the White House National Economic Council, two sources familiar with the decision tell CNN.

Trump offered Kudlow the job Tuesday night over the phone and he accepted, the source said.

The move makes Kudlow Trump's second top economic adviser after Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who worked for Trump for over a year, announced his resignation earlier this month over internal disagreements around the President's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Kudlow was long seen as the front-runner for the job. CNBC first reported Kudlow accepted the offer.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she had no personnel announcements to make, though she confirmed that Trump spoke to Kudlow on Tuesday.

Kudlow's ascension, however, does not solve the disagreement inside the administration over Trump's tariff decision. The cable news personality has been outspoken in opposition to the tariff plan and wrote an op-ed for CNBC earlier this month that detailed his disagreements.

"In other words, steel and aluminum may win in the short term, but steel and aluminum users and consumers will lose," Kudlow wrote. "In fact, tariff hikes are really tax hikes."

Trump acknowledged his disagreement on tariffs with Kudlow in a conversation with reporters on Tuesday, but said he welcomed the difference of opinion.

"I'm looking at Larry Kudlow very strongly. I've known him a long time. We don't agree on everything but in this case I think that's good. I want to have a divergent opinion -- we agree on most," Trump said.

He added that Kudlow has "come around to believing in tariffs as a negotiating point."

Peter Navarro, Trump's top trade adviser and a fervent proponent of the President's tariffs, was seen as the force behind Cohn's eventual departure. The two butted heads over the decision and internally Trump's decision was seen as a win for Navarro and a damaging loss for Cohn.

Wary of the narrative that Navarro and Kudlow will clash in the same way that Navarro and Cohn did, a source close to Navarro said the President's trade adviser is "very happy" with Kudlow's selection.

The source said the two men have been friends for years, dating back to the time they spent on CNBC sets together as economic analysts.

While the two men differ on trade, the source said Navarro and Kudlow agree on nearly every other economic issue.

Another source said Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have a much friendlier relationship than Mnuchin had with Cohn. They worked together on Trump's economic plan during the presidential campaign, the source added.

Trump hinted that Kudlow was his pick at the time, telling reporters that the media personality "has a good chance" at getting the job.

Trump, according to a source familiar with the President's conversations, began telling friends and advisers on Monday that Kudlow was his pick to replace Cohn.

Trump spoke to Kudlow multiple times over the past week, a separate person familiar with the matter said, but the economist was not officially offered the job until Tuesday.

The selection quickly received plaudits from Capitol Hill Republicans who have long known Kudlow as a media analyst and regular at Republican conferences.

"Couldn't be more pleased," said Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican. "He is somebody that House Republicans are extraordinarily comfortable with."

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