President Donald Trump gushed about his newly minted chief economic adviser on Thursday, predicting that CNBC financial commentator Larry Kudlow will ably fill a Gary Cohn-sized hole in the West Wing.
‘Larry Kudlow will be my Chief Economic Advisor as Director of the National Economic Council,’ Trump tweeted.
‘Our Country will have many years of Great Economic & Financial Success, with low taxes, unparalleled innovation, fair trade and an ever expanding labor force leading the way! #MAGA.’
By promoting ‘fair trade,’ the president was able to sidestep how much he and Kudlow disagree about his recent move to slap punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Kudlow told his regular network on Wednesday about the moment Trump called to tell him it was a done deal.
President Donald Trump boasted Thursday about his choice of CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow as his new chief economic adviser
Kudlow says he was playing tennis when Trump called to offer him the job, and that he called again – and said TV networks were showing his ‘handsome’ face – after the news leaked out
Trump pumped up his promises of lower taxes, business innovation and ‘fair trade’ – but didn’t mention the steel tariffs that Kudlow believes are a bad idea
The president had telegraphed his choice on Tuesday, saying Kudlow had ‘a very good chance’
‘It was out,’ he said of the news. I didn’t know that. I wasn’t watching the TV this morning, and the president called, and he said, “It’s out.” I don’t think he was intending to put it out until tomorrow or Friday,’ he said on CNBC.
‘And I said, “Oh,” and he said, ‘You’re on the air.” He said, “I’m looking at a picture of you.”
‘He said, “Very handsome.” That’s how Trump he is.’
Kudlow, 70, got the nod on Tuesday and accepted the job on Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump called him to talk about the idea while he was playing tennis on Sunday.
‘I thought he was calling to bawl me out because I was so critical,’ he told the Journal. The president actually wanted to make his case for tariffs.
‘The president wants to hear me, even if we disagree. He told me that several times,’ Kudlow said.
The news website Axios cited a source who believes Trump thinks Kudlow ‘can get him good TV coverage.’
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the hire on Wednesday afternoon.
‘Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council,’ Sanders told reporters.
‘We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role.’
Trump had praised the veteran financial commentator and campaign supporter on Tuesday as he left the White House for California.
He told reporters then that he was ‘looking at Larry Kudlow very strongly’ and noted that while the two didn’t agree about the president’s recent decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Kudlow’s views would be helpful to him in the Oval Office.
‘We don’t agree on everything, but in this case I think that’s good,’ Trump said. ‘I want to have different opinions. We agree on most. He now has come around to believing in tariffs as a negotiating point.’
‘I think Larry has a very good chance,’ he continued – noting that Kudlow is a friend and political campaign supporter.
Economic analyst Larry Kudlow is shown appearing on CNBC from the New York Stock Exchange in 2018
‘Larry has been a friend of mine for a long time. He backed me very early in the campaign. I think he was one of my original backers. He’s a very, very talented man.’
‘I’m also speaking to many others. But I think Larry has a very good chance,’ Trump added.
Kudlow is CNBC’s senior contributor and was previously the host of CNBC’s prime-time ‘The Kudlow Report.’ He served in the Office of Management and Budget during President Ronald Reagan’s administration.
He also served as chief economist at the onetime investment bank Bear Stearns from 1987 to 1994.
The White House will likely stay away from commenting on an episode that thrust Kudlow into the national spotlight in 1994: his admission of a long battle with alcohol and cocaine addiction.
Kudlow, pictured in the 1980s during his tenure at Bear Stearns, changed careers following a stint in rehab to address drug and alcohol abuse; he has been clean and sober since 1984
Kudlow ended his time at Bear Stearns following a four-week medical leave.
‘I went into drug rehab,’ he would later tell The New York Times. ‘I had an alcohol and substance-abuse problem that needed to be taken care of.’
Kudlow said then that he had been attending 12-step recovery meetings twice a day for more than a year.
‘I am willing to share with you my problem,’ he told the Times, channeling the ethos of Alcoholics Anonymous and other self-help programs. ‘Anyone who blames Bear Stearns is not right. I take full personal responsibility.’
Kudlow has spoken more about that part of his life in recent years, telling The Washington Post that he decided not to run against Chuck Schumer in New York for a U.S. Senate seat because campaigning would cause him to miss too many AA meetings.
He’s been sober for 24 years.
Trump said Tuesday as he left the White House for California that Kudlow is ‘a very, very talented man’
Trump had been considering a potential replacement for Cohn as director of the National Economic Council for more than a week.
In addition to Kudlow, the potential successors included Chris Liddell, who serves as the White House’s director of strategic initiatives, and Shahira Knight, Cohn’s deputy and a key architect of the president’s tax overhaul law.
The president said last week that Cohn, the former top Goldman Sachs executive, was likely to return to his administration in the future.
Cohn strongly opposed the president’s plan to slap tariffs on the steel and aluminum imports and worked to provide exemptions to U.S. allies such as Canada and Mexico.
But Cohn did play a central role in helping Trump enact a sweeping tax overhaul law, coordinating with members of Congress.
His departure has been worrisome for Capitol Hill Republicans and business groups who have been concerned that Trump may install more protectionist economic policies amid a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.