Powell dismisses Trump threat, says he 'fully intends' to complete four-year term

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a press conference on Wednesday that despite reports President Trump has considered stripping him of his chairmanship, he intends to complete the four-year term.

“I think the law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” Powell told reporters.

Powell later declined to answer a question about whether he plans to respond -- privately or publicly -- to criticisms that Trump has made about the U.S. central bank.

"I would just say that we at the Fed are deeply committed to carrying out our mission," he said, "and also that our independence from direct political control, we see as an important institutional feature that we believe has served the country and the economy well."

On Tuesday, Bloomberg News. reported that the White House, in February, had explored the legality of demoting Powell and leaving him as a Fed governor, a mostly unprecedented move.

That took place just two months after Trump reportedly discussed firing him for hiking interest rates in December.

“Well, let’s see what he does,” Trump said on Tuesday, when a reporter asked him whether he wanted to demote Powell. Trump wants the Fed to keep interest rates low; on Wednesday, policymakers voted almost unanimously to keep interest rates steady, but remained split about future rate movement.

It’s unclear whether Trump has the power to fire Powell before his term ends in 2022. According to the law, the president can fire a Fed governor (for a cause) but it hasn’t been tested on the firing of a chair. Because the chair is considered to be a governor, it’s likely that it is legal.


Trump most recently criticized Powell last week, when he suggested the stock market would be "10,000 points higher" if the Fed had not raised interest rates in December, the fourth time they did so in 2018.