Coverage: Trump wants to fire Fed chair, or maybe not
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has denied ever suggesting firing Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell.
Darlene Superville of the Associated Press had the news:
Trump has been attacking the Fed — and Powell personally — for the central bank’s interest rate increases. Trump blames the independent agency’s hikes for recent stock market turmoil and signs of economic weakness.
Bloomberg News cited four people familiar with the matter in reporting Friday that Trump discussed firing Powell after this week’s rate increase.
But Mnuchin pushed back Saturday in a pair of tweets.
Mnuchin says he spoke with Trump and Trump said that, while he “totally” disagrees with Fed policy, he “never suggested” firing Powell and doesn’t believe he has the right to do so.
Paul Davidson of USA Today reported that Trump realizes he can’t fire Powell:
On This Week, Mulvaney said, “It’s not at all unusual for a president to complain about the actions of the Federal Reserve chairman.
“The tension between the president and an independent Fed is a tradition, it’s part of our system, so it shouldn’t be surprising to anybody that the president is not happy that the Fed is raising rates and, we think, driving down the value of the stock market.”
In fact, Trump has broken a 25-year tradition of presidents refraining from making public comments on Fed interest rate moves to preserve its independence. Before that, presidents such as Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did comment publicly on Fed rate hikes.
If anything, Trump’s comments could force Powell and his Fed colleagues to lift rates more rapidly to assert the agency’s independence, Peter Cont-Brown, a Wharton School professor and author of “The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve,” told USA TODAY earlier this year.
Allan Smith of NBC News reported that a prominent senator said Powell is not in trouble:
Speaking with ABC, Mulvaney incorrectly said the president was the one to post that tweet, not Mnuchin.
Last week, the Federal Reserve announced it will raise interest rates to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he didn’t think Powell “is in any danger of being fired by the president.”
“I think some of the president’s comments have been unfortunate,” Toomey said of Trump’s remarks on the Federal Reserve. “But Chairman Powell is not going to let politics interfere with his decision-making process.”