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Trump considers making media personality Larry Kudlow the top White House economist

Trump considers making media personality Larry Kudlow the top White House economist
Conservative commentator and economic analyst Larry Kudlow on a CNBC set in New York on March 8. (Bryan R. Smith / AFP/Getty Images)

Media personality Larry Kudlow, a loquacious and energetic advocate of low taxes and free trade, has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Gary Cohn as director of the White House's National Economic Council, two people briefed on the process said.

Kudlow was an advisor to President Trump during the 2016 campaign, working closely with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the design of an initial tax plan. In media appearances in the past month, Kudlow has been critical of Trump's new plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, opposition that for other candidates might be disqualifying.

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Still, Trump's close relationship with Kudlow — and Kudlow's experience speaking on television — have bolstered his candidacy for the job. He worked in the Reagan White House and has spent much of his time in recent years working in the media, for CNBC and others.

The two people briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to reveal internal deliberations. One cautioned that a final decision had not been reached.

Some advisors have also told Trump to consider Christopher Liddell for the post. Liddell is the former chief financial officer of General Motors, Microsoft and International Paper. He has been at the White House since last year, but he hasn't left a distinct impression on economic policy, an area Cohn and Mnuchin have mostly dominated.

Cohn announced last week that he would be leaving the National Economic Council. Cohn's influence within the West Wing had waned, as Trump had recently decided to adopt a protectionist trade policy that infuriated the former Goldman Sachs president.

Cohn made numerous media appearances while running the council, and he also ran a detailed staff process that aimed to elevate — or, at times, squash — certain parts of Trump's economic agenda. It is unclear if Trump wants his next council director to advance an ambitious agenda or spend more time with the media defending the changes that have already taken place, such as tax cuts and efforts to roll back regulations.

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