Trump 'unlikely to nominate Cohn for Fed chair'

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump is considering many candidates to head the Federal Reserve and has soured on nominating his top economic adviser Gary Cohn to lead the US central bank, according to sources close to the White House and an administration official.

Two sources said Mr Trump remained upset with Mr Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president, for criticising his response to the violence sparked by a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

The reports come amid the surprise departure of Fed vice-chairman Stanley Fischer, who resigned on Wednesday, adding to the uncertainty about a transition in leadership at the bank. Fed chair Janet Yellen's term expires in February.

Mr Fischer, 73, a former economics professor and long-time central bank official, said he was resigning for personal reasons effective on or around Oct 13, eight months before his term expires.

A White House official said Mr Cohn remained an essential player in Mr Trump's push for tax reform. Another administration official said Mr Trump was "considering several candidates" for the Fed.

Mr Trump was widely criticised for blaming "many sides" for the Charlottesville violence, and Mr Cohn stood with him during a news conference in New York days after the rally when the President said there were "very fine people" on both sides of the rally, which was attended by neo-Nazis.

Mr Cohn looked visibly uncomfortable during those remarks and said later in an interview with the Financial Times that the administration had to do a better job of condemning hate groups.

Mr Trump has said he would consider reappointing Ms Yellen, who was nominated to lead the Fed by former president Barack Obama. Mr Trump had mused about backing Mr Cohn. Charlottesville helped changed that.

"He's not getting it. Trump wants to fire him," said one source with close ties to the White House who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The President does not forget," said another source close to Mr Trump, referring to Mr Cohn's criticism.

Mr Cohn is one of the main architects of the administration's effort to reform the US tax code and lower tax rates for individuals and corporations. But the President did not single Mr Cohn out for praise during a tax reform roll-out speech last week in Missouri, sparking speculation that their relationship had cooled.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'Trump 'unlikely to nominate Cohn for Fed chair''. Print Edition | Subscribe