WASHINGTON — President Trump told reporters at the White House today that “looking at Larry Kudlow very strongly” to replace Gary Cohn as his chief economic advisor.
Trump-supporting economists Lawrence Kudlow, Art Laffer and Stephen Moore said after Trump’s announcement slapping a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum that the president “genuinely believes that his steel and aluminum tariffs will save thousands of blue-collar jobs, but even if tariffs save every one of the 140,000 or so steel jobs in America, it puts at risk five million manufacturing and related jobs in industries that use steel.”
After Cohn’s departure was announced last week, Kudlow said the resignation was a “turn for the worse” in trade.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say the cause for freer trade is over,” Kudlow said. “But we’ll see who is appointed. I personally regret this [resignation] very much.”
Today, Trump noted of Kudlow, “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. He now has come around to believing in tariffs as also a negotiating point. You know, I’m renegotiating trade deals. And without tariffs, we wouldn’t do nearly as well,” he added.
“But Larry has been a friend of mine for a long time. He backed me very early in the campaign. I think the earliest — I think he was one of my original backers. He’s a very, very talented man, a good man. And I think Larry Kudlow has a good chance. I’m also speaking to many others, but I think Larry has a very good chance.”
Trump also praised his pick for secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
“Tremendous energy, tremendous intellect. We’re always on the same wavelength. The relationship has always been very good and that’s what I need as secretary of State,” he said.
The president cited the Iran nuclear deal as a reason for getting rid of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” Trump said. “When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently.”
“So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well,” he added. “Rex is a very good man. I like Rex a lot. I really appreciate his commitment and his service. And I’ll be speaking to Rex over a long period of time.”
Trump didn’t directly answer a question on whether he fired Tillerson for reportedly calling the president a “moron” last summer.
Trump and Tillerson have reportedly battled for some time on issues such as Iran, North Korea, Qatar and the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville; Trump also wanted Tillerson to publicly defend him more. Tillerson allegedly called Trump a “moron” in a July 20 Pentagon meeting in response to the president suggesting that he would can the commander in Afghanistan and comparing troop-level decisions to a 1980s N.Y. restaurant renovation.
“I respect his intellect. I respect the process that we’ve all gone through together. We have a very good relationship. For whatever reason, chemistry, whatever it is,” Trump said today in response to the “moron” question. “Why do people get along? I’ve always — right from the beginning, from day one, I’ve gotten along well with Mike Pompeo. And frankly, I get along well with Rex too. As you know, I wish Rex a lot of good things. I think he’s going to do — I think he’s going to be very happy. I think Rex will be much happier now. But I really appreciate his service.”
“But with Mike, we’ve had a very good chemistry right from the beginning,” he added.