Amid market anxiety, White House officials are saying that President Donald Trump has no plans to fire Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, despite Trump’s attacks over higher interest rates.
“He now realizes he does not have the authority,” acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
While Trump himself has not commented on reports that a firing of Powell may be on the table, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted that the president told him that – while he “totally” disagrees with the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates – he is aware of the independent role the chairman plays.
“‘I never suggested firing Chairman Jay Powell, nor do I believe I have the right to do so,'” Mnuchin quoted Trump as saying.
Trump’s attacks on Powell over interest rate hikes have already roiled markets, financial analysts said. News reports over the weekend that Trump told friends he might want to fire Powell could create even more concern.
Trump has made no secret of his criticism of the Federal Reserve over interest rate hikes, and has publicly lobbied Powell against them.
After the Fed hike last week, Powell said he was not worried about the president’s comments.
“I know, and everyone who works at the Fed knows, that we’re going to do our jobs the way we’ve always done them,” Powell told reporters. “And that involves … getting the best thinking together, diverse perspectives.”
The president and his aides have blamed the Fed for the recent fall of the stock market, though some financial analysts cite other factors like looming trade wars with China and other countries, higher budget deficits – and Trump’s public attacks on Powell.
In his ABC interview, Mulvaney said it’s not unusual for presidents to clash with the Fed.
“The tension between the president and an independent Fed is traditional as part of our system,” Mulvaney said. “So it shouldn’t be surprising to anybody that the president’s not happy that the Fed is raising rates and we think driving down the value of the stock market.”
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