Trump announces departure of White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett

White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett told reporters on Monday that his departure from the post had been in the works for a while and is not linked to the recent announcement of tariffs on Mexico.
White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett at a news briefing at the White House in Washington, on Sept 10, 2018.
White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett at a news briefing at the White House in Washington, on Sept 10, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - United States President Donald Trump said on Sunday (June 2) that White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Kevin Hassett will "shortly" leave his post, but did not provide a reason for the latest high-level departure from the administration.

"Kevin Hassett, who has done such a great job for me and the Administration, will be leaving shortly. His very talented replacement will be named as soon as I get back to the US," Mr Trump said in a Twitter post on Sunday night as he flew to Europe for a series of state visits.

Mr Trump thanked Mr Hassett for his work, and called him a "true friend" in the Twitter post.

Mr Hassett, 57, who directed economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute before joining the administration, regularly credited the overhaul of the tax code with boosting financial markets and wages during television appearances and media briefings.

He provided relentlessly positive economic analysis, served as a booster for the President’s trade policies and was well liked at the White House.

Mr Hassett thrived despite initial scepticism from hardliners within Mr Trump’s circle who were upset when he was first appointed because of his past support for immigration as a driver of economic growth.

But Mr Hassett’s influence within the West Wing appeared tempered by a President who regularly bases policy decisions on gut feelings rather than detailed statistical analyses.

His post was downgraded from a Cabinet-level position, as it had been under recent presidents.

Mr Hassett’s tenure was also marred by occasional factual miscues and the decision to quibble with traditional statistics that didn’t support Mr Trump’s claims of historic economic growth.

His office has regularly promoted alternative measures to data produced by the Congressional Budget Office, the Bureau of Labour Statistics and the Census Bureau on key issues including wages, inflation, poverty and deficits, while complaining about outside analyses that showed the President’s trade conflicts hurting the economy.

Last year, Mr Hassett told CNN that the economics team at Goldman Sachs Group Inc "almost at times looks like the Democratic opposition" after the bank’s strategists estimated that Mr Trump’s tariffs could hurt corporate earnings next year.

And other claims have proven inaccurate.

In August, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Mr Trump had tripled predecessor Barack Obama’s eight-year job creation record for black workers in just 18 months, quoting inaccurate numbers.

She later issued a correction, and Mr Hassett apologised for the error.

Earlier in the year, Mr Trump posted a false statistic on Twitter comparing US gross domestic product to unemployment.

Mr Hassett said he didn’t know how the error was made.

"I’m not the chairman of the Council of Twitter Advisers," he said.