WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is unlikely to nominate Gary Cohn, his top economic adviser, as the next Federal Reserve chairman, indicating that he is open to considering additional names for a pick he has said he would like to make by year's end, according to people familiar with the president's thinking.
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This shift inside the Oval Office was largely due to Mr. Cohn's reaction to Mr. Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., in which the president at times blamed both white supremacists opposing the removal of a Confederate war statue and counterprotesters.
Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July he was considering Mr. Cohn as a potential successor to Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, whose term as central bank chief expires in early February. When asked for comment, Mr. Cohn, who sat in on the interview, laughed, placed his hands over his ears, and said, "This is an interview with the president."
Mr. Trump said in the interview July 25 that he was also considering whether to nominate Ms. Yellen for a second term. The change in Mr. Cohn's chances potentially bolsters Ms. Yellen's prospects. Other names that have been discussed by Mr. Trump and his team as possible nominees to the Fed board of governors include former governors Lawrence Lindsey and Kevin Warsh, former BB&T Bank Chief Executive John Allison, and Stanford University economist John Taylor, according to people familiar with the discussions.
While Ms. Yellen was a political target for Mr. Trump during the campaign, as president he has repeatedly praised her handling of the economy.
Mr. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, has been running the White House search for Fed chief. A senior administration official said "the president is considering several candidates."
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White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said Mr. Cohn is "focused on his responsibilities...including a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver meaningful tax reform that creates jobs and grows the economy."
Mr. Cohn may have doomed his chances for the top Fed job with comments he made to the Financial Times on Aug. 25, according to people close to the president.
Mr. Cohn had told associates that he was disgusted by Mr. Trump's performance immediately after the president's combative news conference on Aug. 15 about the Charlottesville events, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Cohn stood near Mr. Trump at the news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower, which White House officials intended to focus on the president's push for investment in infrastructure.
Asked if he considered resigning after the news conference, Mr. Cohn told the Financial Times that he was "reluctant to leave my post."
He also said the Trump administration "can and must do better" to condemn hate groups. "Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK," Mr. Cohn told the newspaper.
Write to Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com
Corrections & Amplifications
This item was corrected at 5:27 p.m. ET. The original misspelled White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom's last name as Strohm.
White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said Mr. Cohn is "focused on his responsibilities...including a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver meaningful tax reform that creates jobs and grows the economy." "President Trump Unlikely to Nominate Gary Cohn to Become Fed Chairman -- Update," at 5:25 p.m. EDT, misspelled Ms. Strom's last name in the seventh paragraph. (Sept. 6, 2017)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 06, 2017 17:40 ET (21:40 GMT)