Trump met with Kevin Warsh as part of Fed chair search

Martin Crutsinger
Associated Press

Washington — President Donald Trump met with former Federal Reserve board member Kevin Warsh as part of the process of interviewing candidates for the Fed’s top job.

A White House official said Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Warsh on Thursday. The official spoke Friday on condition of anonymity to discuss private White House meetings.

Trump has said previously that he is considering re-nominating Fed Chair Janet Yellen when her term ends in February. But he has said he is also looking at other candidates including Gary Cohn, the head of Trump’s National Economic Council.

Warsh, who served on the Fed’s board from 2006 to 2011, was a key adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during the 2008 financial crisis. He is married to Jane Lauder, granddaughter of cosmetics giant Estee Lauder. Her father, Ronald Lauder is a longtime Trump friend.

Warsh was 35 when he was nominated by then-President George W. Bush to serve on the Fed board in January 2010. He is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute and a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Trump told reporters earlier this month that he liked and respected Yellen but had not made a decision yet on the Fed job. While Trump was harshly critical during the campaign of Yellen’s performance, he has made only favorable comments about her since the election.

Yellen’s current term as chair expires on Feb. 3. In an interview this summer, Trump mentioned Cohn as another candidate for the Fed job. But Cohn’s prospects appeared to dim after he was publicly critical in August of Trump’s response to the protest violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Cohn and Mnuchin have taken the lead in crafting the administration’s tax plan, which was unveiled on Wednesday.

Yellen, asked last week whether she had met with Trump recently, said she had not met with the president since a brief discussion the two had after Trump took office. Yellen has repeatedly said she plans to serve out her current term. But she has not said whether she would serve another four-year term is asked to so do by Trump.

Other names that have been mentioned for the top Fed job are Jerome Powell, the only Republican currently serving on the Fed board, and Stanford University economist John Taylor, a favorite of GOP conservatives for his support for a rules-based approach to setting interest-rate policies.

At present there are three vacancies on the Fed board, and there will soon be a fourth. Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer announced earlier this month that he planned to step down in October. So far, Trump has moved to fill only one of the vacancies, nominating Utah financier Randal Quarles to the Fed board to be vice chairman for bank supervision. His nomination is pending before the Senate.