Ivanka Trump had breakfast with Janet Yellen as the president considered the Fed chair’s renomination

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White House
Sept. 11, 2017, 1:03 p.m. Reporting from Washington

Ivanka Trump had breakfast with Janet Yellen as the president considered the Fed chair’s renomination

Ivanka Trump at the Republican National Convention in 2016. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Ivanka Trump at the Republican National Convention in 2016. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Ivanka Trump and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen had breakfast this summer as President Trump considered whether to nominate Yellen for another term as the central bank chief.

The president’s daughter and Yellen dined at the Fed from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on July 17, according to Yellen’s calendar, which the Fed releases to the public with about a one month lag.

A White House official said Monday that Ivanka Trump “reached out” to Yellen after reading a speech the Fed chairwoman made last spring about women’s participation in the economy and barriers faced by women and minority small business owners.

The White House official and a Fed spokeswoman declined to comment on what was discussed at the breakfast.

The Fed chair often meets with administration officials and members of Congress. But a sit-down with a member of the First Family is highly unusual for the chief of the nation’s independent central bank.

The breakfast came as Yellen’s four-year term is set to expire in February. She has not said publicly if she is interested in a second term but Trump has said he is considering renominating her.

Ivanka Trump is an unpaid assistant to the president and a key advisor. She has advocated for women’s issues, such as paid family leave and an expanded child tax credit.

Yellen, the first woman to lead the Fed, gave a speech in May at Brown University entitled “So We All Can Succeed: 125 Years of Women’s Participation in the Economy.”

A few weeks later, Ivanka Trump tweeted a quote from the speech and a link to it.

Ivanka Trump and Yellen had breakfast in a room in the Fed’s beaux arts Marriner S. Eccles Building, where Yellen frequently dines with guests.

In July, she had breakfast there twice with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. She also had lunch there in July with Gary Cohn, the White House’s top economic advisor and a possible rival for the Fed chairmanship.

President Trump has sent mixed messages about his opinion of Yellen.

He sharply criticized her during the 2016 presidential campaign, accusing her of keeping the benchmark interest rate “artificially low” to help fellow Democrats President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

“I think she is very political and to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself.” Trump told CNBC in a September 2016 interview.

A Trump campaign video included images of the Fed and Yellen, casting her as part of the “political establishment” that has “bled our country dry.”

But on July 25, about a week after Yellen’s breakfast with Ivanka Trump, the president said he was considering renominating Yellen and that she and Cohn were top candidates for the job.

“I like her. I like her demeanor. I think she’s done a good job,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “I’d like to see rates stay low. She’s historically been a low-interest-rate person.”

But Yellen might have hurt her chances of renomination by strongly defending tougher financial regulations during an August speech. Trump and many Republicans want to scale back many of the stricter rules put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, arguing they have stunted economic growth.

Cohn’s chances also have taken a hit recently.

Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Cohn is unlikely to be selected because of critical comments he made about Trump’s response to the Charlottesville, Va., violence.

Cohn told the Financial Times in an interview last month that the Trump administration “can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning” white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

2:05 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from the White House.

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